Women leaders bring better health to 4th class town

Red Orchid Award. Champion for Health Leadership. Seal of Good Local Governance. Gawad Pamana ng Lahi. Seal of Good Housekeeping. These are just a few of the recent health recognitions conferred to the municipality of San Felipe, Zambales thanks to the powerhouse girl tandem of Mayor Carolyn Fariñas and municipal health officer Dr. Salome Arinduque.

Theirs is a story of persisting through personal struggles and turning experiences into motivation to bring better health outcomes to their people.

Mayor Fariñas had to leave her quiet private life to run for an elective post when her politician husband suddenly died in his sleep. Dr. Arinduque, meanwhile, went through financial difficulties when her father was diagnosed with cancer.

As they went through the struggles, they knew it could be worse for others. So they used their strengths to influence and improve the lives of people. And they did it by empowering the health workforce.

When Arinduque first came in as MHO in 2005, she saw the staff lacked passion. In her words, “’Yung motivation nila, papasok lang just for the heck of it! Mairaos lang ang 8 am to 5 pm.”

So she led by example by serving with passion. She also taught them technical skills.

Naturuan ko na ang staff so pag wala ako, alam na nila paano mag-treat. Pati computations, nagpapa-exam ako to evaluate kung may natutunan sila. Tinuruan ko sila kung paano mag-refer ng pasyente, ano sasabihin nila sa doctor. Tinuruan ko sila kung anong laboratory ang gagawin para sa pasyente na ito, kung paano makipag-usap. From head to foot titingnan nila ang isang buntis kung bakit kailangan nila siya i-refer. Sinasabi ko palagi pakiready ang ambulance. Pag na-settle na at nakabalik na tatanungin ko ano nangyari.

Mayor Fariñas, on the other hand, does not micromanage. She learned from the MHO who among the staff were rising up and based on that knowledge, assigned focal persons.

“I think they are inspired, they are capacitated, they are supportive. Much of them are given importance because they are being assigned as focal persons. In all our programs ginamit ko nga ‘yung management style na may focal person para merong humahawak talaga, merong primarily accountable, lahat tulong-tulong. Pero laging may primary lead, si doktora.”

Through engaging health staff and empowering them, the Fariñas-Arinduque tandem was able to gain more health champions who work toward optimum health for the people of San Felipe.


See related story here.