Philippines 1998

MSF targets the excluded Although health care is theoretically free to everyone with a fixed address, all patients have to pay for drugs, x-rays and laboratory tests, and the homeless and street-children are excluded altogether. Weekly consultations and treatment are available to street-children in five clinics set up in centres run by partner organisations in poor districts of Metro Manila, as well as in Molave prison for juveniles. The clinics, equipped by MSF and supplied with basic drugs, receive up to 600 children monthly. General health and STD/AIDS education is given during consultations, or in the streets themselves and training is offered to para-medical personnel and social workers at the centres. Another Manila project assists a home for 15 mentally-handicapped street-children. In Davao, commercial sex workers, their partners and other high risk groups are targeted by an STD/AIDS programme, with partners and clients encouraged to attend a clinic set up by MSF. Although initially free of charge, a very limited cost recovery system was set up early in 1998, responding both to the request of patients themselves concerned to protect their dignity and MSF's decision to reinforce this as a health issue through a relatively symbolic financial participation. Prevention includes information and condom distributions, both in the clinic and by a team working directly in the streets and bars, which also advertises the clinic's existence. An Emergency Preparedness and Response team was withdrawn in May 1998 as most objectives had been achieved including preparation of a manual for local NGOs. A new project in Sulu trains nursing personnel and distributes drugs to rural health centres.