Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Network of Information for a Collective Action

It was May 1, 1985 when the first issue of Health Alert newsletter was published. This is where it all started. HAIN then became the repository of health information not just among people’s organizations but also for people in the academe, government, and media. At that time, everything was printed and publications played major role in advocacy; there was still no Internet and access to information was limited.

HAIN’s publications include newsletters, books, and monographs. Some of our publications present results of our research findings and provide documentations of the trainings we have conducted. The publications cover topics relevant to various health aspects from a wide range of social science disciplines and cater to different sectors. These publications reach both local and international communities.

The organization has gained credibility by adhering to its mission of providing accurate and unbiased scientific information. HAIN’s publications are generally reader-friendly; by tapping non-health professionals to write articles, issues are explained in layman’s language. Another advantage of tapping non-health professionals is that they provide a different perspective. Dr. Michael Tan noted that, “may nakikita na issue na nakapaloob sa health na hindi nakikita ng doctors at ibang health professionals.”

HAIN: 25 years and beyond

The people's health was one of the collateral damages of Ferdinand Marcos's 20-year dictatorial regime. During that period, people were dying of communicable but easily treatable diseases. The health care system was in disarray, with people dying without ever seeing a doctor.

To address the gap, community health based programs (CBHPs) were established throughout the country to provide badly needed medical services. CBHPs were also quick to realize that the state of the people's health was inextricably tied to the prevailing socio-economic and political conditions. Thus, CBHPs also focused on community organizing to empower the people so that they themselves could demand for a just and humane society.

While CBHPs were making head ways in providing medical services to the people and in organizing communities, two areas were overlooked: research and documentation. In an interview, Dr. Michael Tan, founder of HAIN, said that there were a lot of information needs at that time aside from training manuals. Program members brought this concern, which ultimately led to the formation of the Health Action Information Network (HAIN).

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