The Manila Health Department (MHD) is pursuing health-based projects under its Gender and Development (GAD) program this year.
According to Dr. Gina Pardilla, Chief of Division of Planning and Coordination and GAD Department head, gender concerns are integrated in their health programs.
Their current GAD programs are connected with projects for awareness on healthy lifestyle and disease prevention measures among the locals.
One of the department’s focus is addressing the growing cases of STD, HIV and AIDS in the city.
In 2015, the Department of Health (DOH) revealed that Manila is among the top 6 cities in the country with high prevalence rate of HIV with 6.7 percent, specifically to men having sex with men or (MSM).
It has established various programs like counselling, family planning seminars, and gender responsiveness awareness.
“We wanted to find cases of HIV,” Dr. Pardilla said. We have a process to screen for people who are most at risk but don’t wish to get screened.”
However, it is a challenge to encourage people to get screened, noting that many are afraid of the stigma that comes with HIV.
But the department puts hard work in addressing the issue by establishing the “Call a Friend” hotline where clients can easily reach whenever they needed assistance.
Aside from doing counselling, they also give seminars to younger generation in the community with regards to commercial sex reference giving them awareness on how to protect themselves.
“Aside from client focused activities, we also have for workers and organizations and when we say gender it is for all ages. Gender equality gives more focus on family planning as well as reproductive health,” Dr. Pardilla shared.
The health department also offer social hygiene clinic breastfeeding letting regularly; caravan for teenage pregnancy and safe motherhood free HIV testing; plus, free medicine for sexually transmitted disease, and anti-retro viral therapy conducted by trained primary care physicians.