Teachers’ health takes front seat in AKAP Guro’s 3SK Project
Written by: Annelle Tayao-Juego
Across the Philippines, over 28 million students head to their classrooms, ready to learn from the people who nourish their minds every day: their teachers. A profession that requires utmost dedication and an open heart, teaching plays a critical role in community development, as the men and women who mold young, impressionable minds can greatly influence the country’s future.
Recognizing their unique value to society, Unilab, Inc. (Unilab) the country’s leading healthcare company, has launched under its External Affairs Division the “Alaga sa Kalusugan ng Pamayanan (AKAP) Guro Program,” which provides educators the healthcare and training they need to help them in their work.
“When we launched AKAP Guro in 2020, we wanted to ensure that teachers are provided with reliable information, most especially about the pandemic, as they remained to be in the frontlines of school, facing the mammoth task of transitioning to online classes, amidst the high risk of Covid-19 infections,” says Jose Maria A. Ochave, Senior Vice President of Unilab, Inc.’s Social Partnerships.
So far, AKAP Guro has held a series of webinars in partnership with the Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Education (DepEd), engaging school administrators and teachers across the country in open discussions with medical experts and local government units (LGUs) on how to keep a healthy and safe space for learning.
AKAP Guro also complements other government initiatives, such as “Oplan Kalusugan (OK) sa DepEd” and “Healthy Learning Institutions” (HLIs) that seek to ensure the safety and health of students and teachers. OK sa DepEd aims to “have the sufficient implementation of school-based nutrition program and services; provide all public school teachers with health and nutritional services; ensure the wellness of DepEd personnel through basic medical care; generate information of health and nutrition records of the learners for planning and programming, and maximize opportunities for better and wider coverage for health and nutrition services delivery.”
It also covers programs on drug education, comprehensive tobacco, adolescent reproductive health, water, sanitation and hygiene, medical, dental, and nursing services, and mental health.
The DOH’s HLI, meanwhile, commits to helping DepEd in ensuring learners’ health and well-being through improved access to healthcare; the crafting of healthy school policies; the provision of conducive physical and social environments; strengthened links with the community on health; and reinforced health skills and education.
Safe Schools, Safe Kids Project
Beyond online information dissemination, AKAP Guro stepped up its campaign in 2022 by launching “Safe Schools, Safe Kids” or 3SK, a project that partners with LGUs and Schools Division Offices to provide medical services to teaching and non-teaching personnel of partner schools, as well as trainings for the Clinic Teachers.
“Health, unfortunately, often takes a back seat among our educators given their daily load in school. They need our support to enable them to stay healthy or if in case they have comorbidities, help them manage or control their condition. With the 3SK Project, we are making sure that our teachers’ health is in the front seat,” says Claire D. Papa, Unilab Inc.’s Assistant Vice President for Social Partnerships.
For its launch phase, 3SK was rolled out in identified elementary and secondary public schools in Quezon City, Navotas City, and Mandaluyong City.
Recently, 3SK was also started in San Fernando, Pampanga in collaboration with Jose B. Lingad Memorial General Hospital (JBL) and its MultiSector Governance Council (MSGC), the Schools Division Office of San Fernando, and the City Mayor’s Office through the City Health Office. The said alliance is an upgraded version of the project as no less than a regional hospital, along with its dynamic MSGC that is focused and committed to Women’s Health, is at the helm of the provision of health care services for the teachers who were identified to be part of the pilot run. The upscaling emanated out of deep concern for teachers, particularly women, thus, this novel collaboration was made into reality.
“We are privileged to be working with Unilab, the Office of the City Health Office and the Department of Health as partners in delivering the best health care service we can to the teachers of Pampanga through the 3SK project’s AKAP Guro program. As we have served as frontliners during the pandemic and in the new normal era, we resonate with how our teachers have faced these changing times by uplifting the standards of the education of the youth amidst the global challenges,” shared by Dr. Monserrat S. Chichioco, Medical Center Chief II of JBL. “Makakaasa kayo na patuloy kaming magbibigay ng serbisyong may lingap, husay at malasakit sa ating mga lingkod bayan sa Department of Education (You can rest assured we will continue to provide services with genuine concern, expertise, and unparalleled care to our public servants in the Department of Education).”
As a partnership initiative of the JBLMGH-MSGC, JBL will lead the deployment of medical teams to the pilot schools to provide basic medical services and appropriate referrals for cases that need further intervention. Such model, in fact, is aligned with Universal Health Care that strengthens the referral system within a community and builds the baseline health profile of the patients.
“There are a lot of school-based programs but they mostly focus on the learners. Considering the contributions and commitment of the teachers, 3SK’s commitment to the teachers is very much appreciated,” says Leonardo D. Zapanta, Schools Division Superintendent.
“Partnerships are very important because, in reality, we cannot do it alone. I am happy that we have partners in JBLMGH-MSGC and Unilab who are helping us out in our programs for the teachers,” adds San Fernando Mayor Vilma B. Caluag.
Apart from medical services, 3SK is also collaborating with medical schools and City Health Officers for the training of Clinic Teachers in public elementary and high schools. This is to equip them with basic knowledge on primary health care and basic life support to be able to respond and manage medical or emergency situations.
More importantly, 3SK has also simultaneously kicked off its efforts in doing school rounds for face-to-face engagements with parents to enable health education and dialogues on how the family and schools can work hand-in-hand to keep the learners healthy.