Press Release
September 28, 2011


During today's budget hearing, Senator Edgardo J. Angara urged Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon "Dinky" Soliman to work together with the Department of Health (DOH) in adopting the "Volunteer Corps" model of Thailand.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has lauded the said program, initiated in Thailand in 1962, for helping bring down Malaysia's infant mortality rate to one of the lowest rates in the region at 5 per 1,000 live births in 2010. The Philippines own infant mortality rate was 23 per 1,000 live births in 2010.

"Filipinos demonstrate the same strong volunteerism culture as the Thais. This kind of ethos is a strong basis to adopt their model," said Angara.

The volunteers of the said program are assigned to look after 15 to 20 households, to help control and prevent diseases, not cure and treatment. In turn, they receive discounts on hospital rooms, subsidized education, and a monthly stipend of 600 Baht, or around P840.

Angara, Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, suggested that the said program be initiated to complement the Aquino administration's banner project Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program being implemented by the DSWD in coordination with the DOH.

"Instead of undertaking this massive project separately, the DSWD and the DOH should link up and consolidate their programs so we can have a bigger coverage and make better use of our meager budget," said Angara.

"Through this program we can hit three birds with one stone: reduce poverty, improve health, and even provide jobs to many of our people," said Angara. "This is a good goal for the DSWD and the DOH, and it allows us to stretch our peso."

Secretary Soliman agreed on the potential of the proposed project, and signified willingness to work with Secretary Ona of the DOH to merge the programs of both departments by 2012. Soliman further mentioned the possibility of tapping parents and barangay health workers to become volunteers for the said program.

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