Phillipines: Assisting street children

In the past few years, MSF implemented water and sanitation projects in one of the poorer slum areas of Malabon City, Metro Manila. Through them, new drainage and water distribution systems were designed and installed. MSF also ran a supplementary feeding program here in 2003. Malnutrition is a recurring phenomenon in The Philippines and MSF monitors the situation where it is active in the Metro Manila area. In the beginning of 2003, in Mindanao, an island in the south of the country, MSF carried out an emergency response for a large number of displaced persons. The island was shaken by an outbreak of violence, rooted in a conflict that has been going on for three decades between Muslim rebels and governmental forces. The clashes caused civilians to flee from their villages. MSF addressed immediate medical needs in the municipality of Maguinanao. The situation has now calmed down, but remains tense and MSF continues to monitor it. MSF operates a program for street children living in the capital Manila. The street children project operates within the city's District 5 area. It targets 200 out of an estimated 2,200 street children living in the area. The program uses a medico-psychosocial approach to address the problems encountered by street children, their families and their communities. The children's reproductive and sexual health is the major health concern: sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a problem. The Philippines has one of the fastest growing commercial sex industries in the region. MSF gives medico-psychosocial response to street children who engage in commercial sex work, as well as to victims of sexual, physical and psychological abuse. Furthermore, MSF helps street children gain access to health care as well as to legal support. A major advocacy event held in December 2003 included street children dancing and singing before an audience comprised of the public and government officials. The event helped to raise awareness about the street children and their plight.