Sagada: a cool highland teeming with lush vegetation, fogging that extends until a few hours before noon, and an overall quiet air that envelops the mountain region. Life is lived in a slow pace, with the locals living a detached, albeit content life compared to their counterparts in the metropolis that is Manila. The mountain has been a sanctuary, and Sagada natives seem undisturbed for the most part.
Despite the little needs that the Sagada population has, Dr. Evelyn D. Capuyan, Municipal Health Officer, saw it fit to give them the highly vaunted health benefits that most Manilenos brag about in their white collar jobs. The physician launched the Sagada Health Insurance Program (SHIP) for the natives—most of them Igorots—which enabled them to get refunds for their medical expenses. Asking for a meager amount of P240 in annual dues, the beneficiaries stand to reimburse themselves of as much as P1,500 every year. Capuyan herself created the accounting system, which took into account the gross annual cash incomes of her fellow citizens.
Taking only 4.17 percent of an average Igorot family’s income, the program stands to save around P800,000 a year, which will be enough to establish a pharmacy for the locals. The initiative also currently sponsors 50 indigent families in the PhilHealth system.
Another milestone in her career as a public servant was when she established the Community Health Teams (CHTs). She saw the potential of the barangay and the bayanihan spirit, and pushed concerned citizens in creating an inter-sectoral networking system that fosters collective concern for the health of the public.
Soon enough, the CHTs comprised not only of barangays but of teachers, religious groups, non-government organizations and sectoral groups. The CHTs then conduct house-to-house visits to check all the various aspects of every household in Sagada. They inspected the sanitation and hygiene practices of every family, assessed the status of each member, and launched information campaigns to provide a solid foundation for the prevention and cure of diseases.
The CHT initiative has helped the families save up to 60 percent in their expenses, and henceforth allowing a bigger slice of the budget pie for other pressing matters, such as the education of the children. The CHTs also proved a win-win situation: the barangay health workers have more initiatives to do their due diligence because of an increase in honorarium, while the communities are more aware and concerned about their health.
Just as a farmer is only as good as his tools, a community is only as healthy as the bodies that compose it. Dr. Capuyan only asks for P240, not for herself or her interest, but rather, a chance to improve the living conditions in Sagada. A regard for human life and an encompassing interest for the community without the expectations of return merit Dr. Capuyan an inclusion in the list of nominees for the Dangal ng Bayan.