Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tsunami postscript: Rebuilding a nation after a disaster

The December 2004 tsunami generated an unprecedented challenge for the countries affected in terms of a staggering human death toll, displacement and destroyed infrastructure and assets.

In Sri Lanka, the tsunami affected around one million people and devastated over two thirds of the country’s coastline. In its aftermath, more than 1,500 children were orphaned; more than 35,000 lives were lost; while another 20,000 were injured. Common infrastructure and public utility supplies were severely affected, further hampering relief and rescue missions in remote coastal areas. The total cost of relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in Sri Lanka was estimated at around USD 2.2 billion.

Tsunami-affected areas were vulnerable to the spread of communicable diseases with the displacement of people, deterioration of sanitary conditions, lack of clean drinking water and shelter, disruption of health infrastructure resulting in a delayed and ad hoc distribution of medical aid. With this backdrop, the government was faced with an enormous challenge of addressing the immediate health needs of affected populations.

To control the spread of diseases among the displaced, essential supplies and medicines were distributed:
• mosquito nets
• emergency first aid kit
• malaria kits
• chlorine tablets
• testing and sanitation kits
• vitamins

Rebuilding a nation
After the initial relief stage, which focused on bringing immediate relief to the people, the government commenced the next stage: rebuilding a nation battered by tsunami.

Recovery and reconstruction activities were organized under four thematic areas: getting people back into their homes, restoring livelihoods, health and education-protection, and national infrastructure development. The government and development partners also worked on a number of cross-cutting themes such as environment, gender, legal aspects, and disaster preparedness.

A round-the-clock tsunami operation cells were established in each district, with teams and working groups tasked to oversee the distribution of medical donations and supplies. Together with its development partners, the Ministry of Health (MoH) identified medium and long term priorities to attend to:

• Restoration of services and reconstruction/renovation of health clinics and hospitals completely or partially damaged by the disaster
• Provision of essential medical supplies and drugs
• Mobility of medical teams and personnel
• Health protection and disease prevention of over 500,000 internally-displaced population (IDP)
• Addressing the mental and psychosocial needs of the affected communities
• Restoration and improving basic health and nutrition services and interventions
• Developing an early warning system and disaster management unit in the MoH

However, there were also a number of issues faced by the government and the development partners, for which possible solutions were found. Some of the issues were coordination of health activities at all levels soon after the disaster, developing, communicating and maintaining standards to all stakeholders, construction and rehabilitation of health facilities, addressing the human resource shortages, emergency preparedness system and plan, logistics and distribution, monitoring of IDPs’ health and quality of life and ensuring the sustainability of services.

Relief partners
The massive outpouring of assistance from civil society and the response of the international community with humanitarian aid including rescue teams, medical and food supplies, equipment and personnel was exemplary. This demonstration of human solidarity and kindness helped to curb any outbreak of disease among affected communities. The health practices and knowledge of the people also contributed to reduce health risks.

Responding to the crisis, partner-organizations of the People’s Health Movement (PHM) – Sri Lanka established centers to assist the displace. Sarvodaya, one Sri Lanka’s biggest charities and a member of the PHM, worked to sustain the displaced by providing cooked meals, clothing, and attending to their basic health needs. Special attention was paid to maternal and infant care. As it was necessary to maintain good health and hygiene practices amongst the displaced people information campaigns were conducted in the tsunami shelter sites. Awareness among the residents were raised by distributing leaflets and posters in the sites. Volunteers from Sarvodaya also visited these sites providing health education to the displaced.
On long term reconstruction and recovery efforts Sarvodaya constructed shelters, preschools and playgrounds. The beneficiaries also received household utensils and educational material.

Article by: Gireesha de Silva, Issue 12, Health Alert Asia Pacific
For request of copies of Health Alert Asia Pacific, you may write to
Reference: Post Tsunami Recovery and Reconstruction, December 2006
Photo courtesy of Sarvodaya

Friday, September 12, 2008


While proponents of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) claim that the pact will create more opportunities for local nurses by allowing them to enter the Japanese market, a study by a Japanese university shows that foreign nurses in Japan face exploitative work conditions and even discrimination.

A study by the University of Kitakyushu in Japan found out that employment programs involving foreign nurses and caregivers have resulted in trainees being forced to work long hours. The Japanese government has also refused to guarantee minimum wage levels, while exorbitant fees of at least 58,000 yen (PhP 23,200) are deducted from the nurses’ salaries every month.

Exploitation of foreign workers on training programs has also been prevalent. Indonesian trainees in Japan , for instance, have reportedly experienced physical abuse and been forced to render unpaid overtime, while others have been denied such basic rights as freedom of movement. Meanwhile, non-Japanese in the bigger cities are reportedly subject to racial profiling by being asked to produce their foreign registration cards or passports, which must be carried at all times.

Part of government’s hype is that with the JPEPA, 400 Filipino nurses and 600 caregivers will be allowed to enter Japan for training for over two years. However, the receiving scheme for health workers states that they must work as trainees in designated institutions, undergo six months of Japanese language training and pass the national certification tests before they can qualify as nurse or caregiver. Although they are already working during this time they will be receiving pay only as a non-licensed worker or trainee or candidate, or as nurse’s aides and caregiver’s assistants.

According to research group IBON, senators debating on the JPEPA should see that the inclusion of nurses in the JPEPA is a deceptive provision that offers uncertain benefits, made only to sweeten the blatantly one-sided, pro-Japan deal. Using Filipino nurses as a justification for approving JPEPA highlights how the Philippine government is willing to sacrifice the welfare of its citizens as well as to cover up for its severe failure in generating jobs and supporting the country’s health system. (end)

The No Deal! Movement for Unequal Economic Agreements in cooperation with the La Sallian Justice and Peace Commission and Benedictines for Peace invite you to the forum 'JPEPA: Deal or No Deal? The People's Issues', 9 am -12 pm, Sept. 12 at the Fajardo Gonzales Auditorium, DLSU Manila. The program includes discussion on the Senate hearings and the presentation of a manifesto on JPEPA.

Source of article: Ibon Foundation listserve

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Smart Chart Asia Meeting

Master trainers of Smart Chart Approach to Strategic Communications in Asia met in Manila for a three-day meeting on August 26-30 at the Shangrila Hotel. One of the objectives of the meeting is to foster greater use of strategic tools like the Smart Chart and other communications best practices in the Philippines, India and Pakistan.

HAIN leads the Smart Chart project in the Philippines. Similar health NGOs also lead the project in Pakistan (Rozan) and India (Population Foundation of India).

The meeting also facilitated sharing of experiences using the Smart Chart, as well as lessons learned from trainings of master trainers. This meeting was conducted in collaboration with the Communications Leadership Institute, a communications firm based in Washington D.C.

The meeting was structured and facilitated with an emphasis on peer learning and exchange, and include practical support for next steps the in-country partners want to take to advance their work in their home countries.

The meeting provided an opportunity for Smart Chart trainers in Asia to review the work done in Smart Chart and to learn more techniques in facilitating Smart Chart training.

Representatives from each participating country presented a brief overview of how they started their work in conducting Smart Chart training and promoting the approach to various advocacy groups.

CLI shared their own experiences with assessment of effectiveness and discussion about challenges faced by different countries. The three countries also shared the tools they have developed for assessment and evaluation of their own Smart Chart Trainings.

Each country presented a complete Smart Chart training as a team with their own fully developed case study and local examples.

The participants also facilitated peer-to-peer workshops on opposition messaging, and developing case studies.

Training on Research Methods

Health Action Information Network (HAIN) will be conducting a training-workshop on Research Methods for Sexual and Reproductive Health which will be held on October 6-18,2008 in Baguio City.

The training-workshop aims to build research capabilities of the participants to enable them to strengthen their programs on sexual and reproductive health. During the course, participants will be introduced to quantitative (surveys) and qualitative (FGDs, ethnography, life histories, content analysis) research skills, including actual application through fieldwork.

For more information, please write to HAIN and contact Ms Nilda de Vera at or or fax to number (02) 952-6409. If you have any clarifications, please do not hesitate to contact us at telephone numbers (02) 952-6312 or 952-6409.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Sign the Petition for the Passage of RH Bill

Dear friends,


The struggle for the passage of the Reproductive Bill (RH) in Congress rages on. The Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) initiated an online petition that we request you to support by attaching your signature.

Please go to http://www.Petition to do this.

We hope to gather ONE MILLION SIGNATURES to show our legislators that there is a wide support base for the bill's passage despite what the opposition says. We will present the signatures both to the House of Representatives (HOR) and Senate within September as we are waiting for the schedule of plenary deliberations in the HOR and the release of the Senate Committee on Health's report.

Please support the petition. It will not take more than 5 minutes of your time. More than 10 women die daily due to pregnancy and childbirth-related causes. The big bulk of those who die are poor women at the prime of their lives. This is simply unacceptable and must be stopped. Congress has the power to do this. Kindly forward this mail to all your friends.

Thank you very much.

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