GNE has an opportunity to partner with Mountaineer Outreach to pursue our mission of improving health through nutrition in rural areas of the Philippines.
Mountaineer Outreach is a small non-profit organization based in Lebanon, OR, with many years of experience doing charitable work in the Philippines primarily in the mountainous area of Luzon and in the lowlands of Leyte. In conjunction with Mountaineer Outreach Banaue, a group of Filipino doctors and community leaders, they have been conducting free medical clinics in rural villages twice a year and supporting local schools. GNE has connections with Mountaineer Outreach through one of its board members.
For example, Banaue is a small city in the province of Ifugao, an 8 hour drive north from Manila. It is best known for its proximity to the ancient Batad Rice Terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Small villages dot the area, some inaccessible by road. Subsistence agriculture is still a way of life here. Rural health clinics provide vaccinations, vitamin A and deworming to young children. Women are encouraged to go to birthing centers for prenatal care and for iron and folic acid supplements given after the first trimester.
Mountaineer Outreach utilizes American and Filipino doctors, nurses, pharmacists, translators and other volunteers. Typically they walk into a village for a one day clinic with up to 200 visits for minor health problems and health maintenance. They are supported by the staff of the local school and rural health center.
The women and children of rural Banaue District are considered to be a vulnerable population at risk for undernutrition by virtue of their lifestyle, diet and income. This is further suggested by their generally short stature and the 10% incidence of recognized underweight children.
Another example is Santa Fe, a low income suburb outside of Tacloban City, a large metropolitan area on the island of Leyte. Mountaineer Outreach has connections with Christian parishes there and has done free medical clinics for the parishioners. There is no collaboration with the public health system or schools at this site. These people are also vulnerable to undernutrition due to their low income.
GNE has an opportunity to partner with Mountaineer Outreach as it does its medical clinics. We could survey dietary practices, educate women about the importance of nutrition and develop pathways for distribution of micronutrient supplements. The existing collaboration with the community and public health system especially in Banaue may facilitate such an effort. Difficulties with distance, language, communication, interpreters, commitment and procurement of supplements are anticipated.
GNE made an initial presentation to the board of Mountaineer Outreach Banaue in April 2017 which was accepted in principle. Going forward we plan to ask for their help with translation of our programs into the local Ifugao language and Filipino. A pilot project could be set up for April 2018. Funding will be needed for the electronic teaching devices, educational materials, translators and clinic costs.
A partnership of GNE and Mountaineer Outreach to improve health through nutrition in rural areas of the Philippines seems appropriate, reasonable, and doable.