May 20, 2024

The Department of Health-Cordillera in partnership with the municipality of Kibungan, Benguet walked the extra mile recently to reach out to students and teachers of Mocgao Integrated School in Barangay Badeo, Kibungan through the Project Namnama.

Project Namnama, which stands for Nurturing Awareness, Mobilizing Networks, and Advocating to Mitigate the impact of AIDs and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the Cordillera, was designed to address the unique challenges posed by STI and HIV in the region by increasing the awareness of key populations especially the young ones on basic knowledge on transmission and prevention.

“A lot of you are wondering why we have to walk eight hours to bring this project in this remote barangay.  It is because we want them (younger ones) armed with necessary information on HIV transmission and prevention so that if they go to other places, they can protect themselves,” National AIDS, STI Prevention and Control Program Regional Manager Darwin Babon said.

Those who joined the outreach project have endured the hot weather and uphill terrain for eight hours to reach the site where the activities were held from May 1 to 3.

Babon added while the barangay has no HIV cases, one of the strategy of the project is to reached remote villages for health education and promotion on STI and HIV prevention.

“Nowadays children are exposed to social media. It is then paramount to reach out to give accurate information so that they can make the right decision at the right time wherever they are. This is our strategy to reduce the spread of HIV in the region,” Babon said.

Part of the pro-ject is also to engage the participation of the community residents, barangay officials, and the schools to foster a supportive environment towards a healthy workplace, institution, and community.

The activity, also dubbed as Integrated Project Namnama Last Mile Info Caravan, included lecture-discussion among parents, teachers, and students on basic knowledge on comprehensive sexual and reproductive health, gender and development, and mental health.

Personal care and hygiene were also provided to the grade schoolers. Barangay officials and local health workers were also given basic knowledge on Universal Health Care, functions of barangay health board, policies towards healthy learning institutions, and disaster risk reduction management for health.

Essential health services including free oral health care and dental extraction, consultations, and medicines were also provided. The team also distributed Namnama hygiene kits, which included towels, dental care essentials, soap, alcohol, and other hygiene items.

The school and the barangays officials along with the municipality of Kibungan will execute a memorandum of understanding for the partnership implementation of the project until 2025.

“We will adopt this school as site of the project for a span of three years, and one of our goals is to establish the school’s clinic as a Namnama center,” Babon said.

As a project site, the school will receive various information communication technology equipment and capacity building activities for the teachers, local health workers, and officials in the next three years.

The activity was also participated in by the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines and the Benguet Provincial DOH Office.

Namnama is an Iloko for hope, desire, or wish which is aligned with the ultimate goal of DOH-Cordillera to mitigate the impact and reverse the trend of HIV-AIDS epide-mic and decrease the number of STI cases in the region. – Diana Palangchao/DOH CAR