Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao for Health (BARMMHealth)
Approximately 4 million predominantly Muslim Filipinos live in the westernmost and west-central areas of the Philippines’ Mindanao Region (provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi). During the past five centuries, armed conflict over regional autonomy has contributed to making the area the most impoverished region in the country, with low life expectancy. The region suffers from a lack of equitable access to health care and weaknesses in the quality of health care. Inequitable gender norms have also undermined health outcomes.
The country’s 2017 Demographic and Health Survey revealed that women in the region are less likely to decide how to use their earnings independently and more likely to agree that husbands can hit their wives than women elsewhere in the Philippines. The combination of these factors resulted in poor health service utilization and health outcomes, particularly for family planning (FP), maternal and child health (MCH), and adolescent sexuality and reproductive health (ASRH).
Overview and Objectives
The USAID BARMMHealth project, implemented by URC, partners with the Ministry of Health – Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (MOH-BARMM) to improve access of the Bangsamoro families and communities to quality FP, MCH, and ASRH services.
BARMMHealth is working to:
- Improve social norms and strengthen healthy behaviors among underserved adolescents, youth, women, and men;
- Fortify quality of FP, MCH, and ASRH services; and
- Bolster key public health policies and systems needed to support behaviors and services for FP, MCH, and ASRH.
BARMMHealth has equipped more than 400 health workers in BARMM with skills and competencies in FP through the Family Planning Competency-Based Training (FPCBT) series, contributing to the resilience of the region even at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
FPCBT – with Quality Improvement, interpersonal communication, and health systems strengthening interventions – helped MOH-BARMM continue to deliver critical FP, MCH, and ASRH services despite the pandemic. With support from BARMMHealth, MOH-BARMM integrated FP/MCH/ASRH services to COVID-19 surveillance and community health outreach activities. The intervention helped increase current FP users from approximately 219,000 in March 2020 to more than 235,600 in December 2020, a remarkable achievement during a pandemic.
BARMMHealth also has helped MOH-BARMM achieve the following key results from July 2019 to date:
- 878,664 individuals received FP information and messages through radio, television, electronic platforms, community group dialogues, interpersonal communication, and in print;
- 58,058 adolescent youth, men, and women received health-seeking and life-saving FP/MCH/ASRH information through Usapan interactive discussion sessions and other community health events;
- 570 BARMMHealth-supported community mobilization activities delivered FP/MCH/ASRH services in conflict-affected areas and geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas;
- 380 Muslim Religious Leaders joined efforts to disseminate the fatwah on reproductive health and FP, helping MOH-BARMM address misconceptions about Islam and FP;
- 712 health care providers have been trained in FP/MCH/ASRH skills and competencies and 3,861 community health workers mobilized by BARMMHealth are now providing FP information;
- 499 health facilities linked to health care provider networks; and
- Supported key policies such as the crafting of Universal Health Care Implementing Rules and Regulations, the fatwah on gender-based violence, and BARMM’s gender code.