Our Work in Country
For more than 20 years, Americares has been at work in the Philippines. Following Typhoon Haiyan, one of the worst storms of the century to hit the country, Americares expanded its emergency programs in a commitment to strengthen health care for people in need. An in-country office and warehouse were established and a team assembled to guide the recovery process and build longer term, sustainable community health programs. One of the first areas of concern was health care access in many communities where the only local health facility had been damaged, thus leaving many vulnerable people without access to medicine and clinical services.
The Philippines, a nation of more than 7,000 islands, is ranked among the world’s most disaster-prone countries due to its location on the typhoon belt and the Pacific earthquake rim – known as the “Ring of Fire”. An average of 20 typhoons per year and 21 active volcanoes, along with mudslides, flooding and earthquakes often cause heavy damage, especially to health facilities and other infrastructure, resulting in many injuries and fatalities due to the inaccessibility of vulnerable communities on many of the islands. And when disaster strikes, our in country team responds. In recent months, the team has mobilized immediately to help survivors of Tropical Storm Tembin (Vinta) and Typhoon Kai-Tak.
Our Philippines team has already responsed to four disasters this year and is responding next to the Mayon Volcano activity where 75,000 have been evacuated and some have sought shelter in nearly 50 evacuation centers – people have been advised to wear masks and stay indoors in anticipation of a possible eruption.
The emergence of mental health issues in the aftermath of disaster has led Americares to develop a targeted program to improve access to Mental Health and Psychosocial Support services (MHPSS) in three municipalities of northern Cebu. The program trains health workers in identifying general mental health issues and local health providers (Barangay Health Workers) on psychosocial interventions for Depression and Anxiety Disorders
Overall, the project will strengthen local capacities, advocate for inclusion of mental health in local and regional government priorities, and directly support those living with mental illness through access to medicine and trained health workers. In total, this project will reach 9% of those living in the target municipalities (12,500) and train at least 571 community health workers. Through stronger MHPSS centers in each municipality, trained health workers will be able to provide direct psychosocial support and more quickly identify mental illness for referral and reduce the overall burden from mental illness - leading to stronger, healthier and more productive communities.