Women and Children

Urbanization by the numbers

THE United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recently launched the State of the World’s Children 2012 report that focused on issues concerning children in urban-poor communities. (See related story) The report is replete with statistics that illustrate the situation of today’s children amidst urbanization. Below are some highlights of these figures: One in two Filipinos live […]

P-Noy’s Poverty Challenge

Rx for health: Not just money
or dole-outs but real reforms

IN HIS message that accompanies the proposed government budget for next year, President Benigno C. Aquino III notes that the allocation for health is 13.6 percent higher than 2010’s P29.3 billion (According to the 2010 General Appropriations Act though, only P28.7 billion was allocated to the Health Department).

Yet if one were to compare health’s share of the budget for this year and what the corresponding figure could be in the next, the difference isn’t much.

For 2010, the health allocation is 1.8 percent of the P1.54-trillion national purse. For 2011, the Aquino administration is proposing P32.62 billion for health –as indicated in the proposed National Expenditure Program — which is 1.9 percent of the P1.64-trillion national budget. The increase in terms of share in the total budget then would amount to just a tenth of a percentage point.

Confident about ‘confidential’ deal?

Ahead of contract, San Miguel starts
to court Laiban residents

SAN ANDRES, Tanay, Rizal – We were wondering why Sofia de la Rosa seemed a little agitated with our presence. After all, it’s not every day that visitors bother to come to this remote barangay nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Madre range.

In the course of our conversation, the barangay captain of San Andres also kept telling us that her people will not leave this village unless they are paid proper compensation by San Miguel.

Photo essay

Refugees forgotten in Mindanao fighting

It has been almost a year since fighting broke out between government forces and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front after the Supreme Court struck down the Memorandum Agreement on Ancestral Domain. While the story of the continued fighting still makes headlines, the story of the refugees who fled the fighting has been dropped from the frontpages and the line-ups of the major newscasts.

Making sure Mama makes it

VALLEHERMOSO, CARMEN, BOHOL — Had she been in the same situation eight years ago, Jesusa Panes would have probably just given birth at home, even without her husband in sight, and even if her neighbor the hilot (traditional birthing attendant) happened to be drunk. But things have not been the same for expectant mothers in this town since 2002, and so when the child in her belly starting demanding to be let out, Panes began trudging toward the birthing center that was several minutes away by foot from her home.

A school board makeover

NAGA CITY’S successes in its poverty alleviation efforts no doubt allowed it to focus its resources on improving access to basic services like education. But all its education reform efforts could not have been possible without its reinvention of the local school board.

The transformation began in 2001, when the MDGs were largely unheard of and a national government directive for the goals to be localized and included in development planning processes was yet forthcoming. But Naga’s decision then to revamp the school board’s orientation and organizational structure later put the city in a better position to address the gaps in achieving the MDG targets in education.

An island slakes its thirst

KAHIKUKUK, BANGUIGUI, SULU — Asaali Muhalli is no ancient mariner, but there was a time when his lament was practically an echo of that of the protagonist in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous poem: “Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.”

No cure for costly medicines?

Draft law affirms patient rights of drug firms

IT WON’T be over even after the lady signs. And even after she signs it, the fight for popular access to affordable medicines won’t be over.

All that the cheaper medicines bill needs to be enacted into law is the signature of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. But some legal experts lament that as enrolled, the bill passed by Congress bears “imperfections” that effectively affirm the patent rights of big pharmaceutical companies over public health, a major hurdle to bringing down drug prices.

Whither the MDGs?

For the last several months we have been swimming in an alphabet soup of acronyms — NBN, ZTE, NEDA, FG, FGI, to name a few. And more keep pouring in; these days, the most oft-repeated one is NFA, or the National Food Authority. Yet what we should have been repeating like a mantra is MDG and its plural form, which stands for Millennium Development Goals. In 2000, the Philippines became one of the signatories to the Millennium Declaration, thereby sealing its commitment to meeting by 2015 eight goals that address development concerns worldwide. Last year marked the midpoint in the period allotted to the achievement of these MDGs.

Toxins ‘R’ Us

FROM CHILDREN’S toys and the clothes we wear, to the food we eat and the air we breathe — even what seem to be benign can harm us. Indeed, the 16th century German-Swiss alchemist and physician Paracelsus had exclaimed, “All substances are poisons, there is none which is not a poison. The right dose differentiates a poison and a remedy.”

Poisoning is a global problem, and as our world becomes more complex, the risk of poisoning has increased. Yet it is highly likely that poisoning cases are underdiagnosed, partly because we know so little about the effects of small doses of chemicals during the development of our bodies. Recall that it was only three decades ago that we realized the hazards posed by lead, which had been a popular ingredient in paint and other everyday objects. By then generations had been exposed to the substance, which in toxic levels can cause retarded mental growth in children and can mimic intestinal parasitism (abdominal colic and anemia).

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