Alvin Cloyd H. Dakis, MHSS, RN
Alvin Dakis is a nurse by profession, a social scientist, and a certified gender specialist and practitioner. He is an independent consultant of various government institutions on Gender and Development, health, and governance.
For comments and suggestions, email him at DakisConsultancy@gmail.com or visit his website at www. alvindakis.com
In my last article I talked about the gender issues in the Philippine healthcare system. One of the gender issues I kept encountering was the lack of health providers’ sensitivity in handling patients’ gender needs. This apparent lack of sensitivity stems from various factors – one of which is that not all of them have been trained on Gender Sensitivity and have not been continuously coached on how to handle emerging issues on gender.
All health agencies in the Philippines implement their Gender and Development (GAD) programs. These initiatives, however, are not standardized and therefore have varying approaches to address health providers’ level of awareness, appreciation, and application of concepts to realistic practice.
The Gender Transformation for Health: Participatory Toolkit developed by Jhpiego is such a timely document to aid health providers’ knowledge and skills in delivering health services that are sensitive to patients’ gender needs.
This Participatory Toolkit is divided into nine modules and 36 sessions:
Module 1: Gender and Social Norms
Module 2: Gender Based Violence
Module 3: Gender as Determinant of Health
Module 4: Sexuality and Diversity
Module 5: Responding to Sexuality and Sexual Diversity
Module 6: Gender Sensitive and Rights Based Care
Module 7: Gender Analysis
Module 8: Couples Counseling
Module 9: Male Friendly Services
Though the modules are arranged numerically, we can further arrange the contents of the modules through the following concepts:
Cluster A. Addressing Individual & Societal Gender Norms (Modules 1, 2, and 4)
This cluster discusses gender norms being experienced at the individual up to the societal level. Health providers need to process their own experiences of how gender and social norms may have affected their current personal values and their treatment to patients and clients with different concepts and gender identities. Health providers should also be able to understand the manifestations of gender bias, first with one’s perceived stereotypes on gender, and its connection to gender-based violence.
Cluster B. Providing Gender-Sensitive Health Service Delivery (Modules 5, 6, 8, and 9)
Health service providers are expected to deliver a wide range of health services to different population groups. Providing these services should be based on the inherent rights of individuals and must be respected of the highest order. Gender and sexual minorities should be given the same quality of care free from stigma and discrimination. And in the issue of reproductive and sexual health, men should be provided with the same opportunities and attention as that of women – taking into consideration their needs and experiences. Health service providers should also be sensitive in dealing with the needs of couples, including their sexual health and to give them all the scientific and medically-sound methods to space or limit their families.
Cluster C. Understanding Gender as a Determinant of Health (Modules 3 and 7)
Gender is a complicated concept that may cut across multiple layers and structures of the society. It is important to understand the intersection of gender and the health system as gender norms and social control of men’s and women’s access to services may be deep-seated and therefore too difficult to address. The process of determining how gender affects the health system is through Gender Analysis. This process may involve use of different gender analysis tools developed by different institutions. Health service providers must also be oriented in utilizing these tools to further comprehend how gender becomes a determinant of individual’s and group’s health.
The modules are accompanied by learning activities that may aid the understanding of complex concepts. In delivering these modules, Jhpiego and Oxfam Philippines teamed up to train facilitators from Jhpiego’s program sites in the country. These are service providers who are physicians, nurses, and social workers as well. The Training of Facilitators is expected to produce facilitators of the modules that will be delivered in different local government units.
The modules and sessions in this toolkit may also be used by different facilitators to integrate it with the Basic Gender Sensitivity Training (GSTs) especially if the participants are health professionals, service providers, or personnel in health agencies.
For managers and implementers of their agency’s Gender and Development programs in public hospitals, Centers for Health Development, other DOH-attached agencies, and local government units, these modules are very helpful.
If you wish to integrate this toolkit into your Gender and Development programs or have this modules delivered as a training for your staff, you may contact DakisConsultancy@gmail.com