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Malou Sevilla, Philippines

Malou Sevilla is reaching out to the poorest and most marginalised communities in the Philippines.

Amnesty

Maria Loida Yumul-Sevilla is a nurse by profession. She has 33 years of experience developing, managing, implementing and advising national and sub-national population and health programs in the Philippines, in both governmental and non-governmental organizations.

In her current role as Country Program Advisor for Health of Plan International-Philippines, a child-centered, development non-government organization, Malou develops programs that expand delivery of health services to women and children, designs project management guide and tools, and develops technical assistance plans including plans for capability building of health workers.

Malou appreciates the holistic nature of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which is why she decided to pursue a career with Plan. “Plan is an organisation that works with families, community organisations, national and sub-national government units and civil society organisations,” she says. “That gives me the opportunity to influence health policies, programs and activities that are supportive for the achievement of the health MDGs.”

The important role of civil society is something Malou does her best to promote, engaging CSOs to collectively raise the awareness of stakeholders on health issues and offer potential solutions. And community participation is one of her key hopes for the future. “It’s important to have more people, individually or collectively, participate in the process of community planning, implementation, and decision-making in matters affecting their development,” she says. “Leaders need to make and show sincere effort to seek out and engage people in decision-making.”

What achievement is she most proud of? “Apart from the personal achievement of being a daughter, sister, wife, mother and a grandmother, there are a number of professional achievements I am proud of,” she says. “Being able to influence national and sub-national health planners to ensure the right to health is central in planning the delivery of health services and information; the creation of a family managed health monitoring tool which provides information on preventative health care, home management of common illnesses and signs that require immediate professional health care. These are two that come to mind.”

Then there’s the introduction of the inter-village cooperation scheme, which helped the government of remote villages to put up a system to pool their health resources to provide an integrated and comprehensive health program to their constituents. “The scheme helped increased investment on health and brought back the trust of the people on the capability of the health services to address their health needs,” says Malou.

Malou knows the importance of sustaining efforts to meet the MDG targets and improving global health. “A healthy and well-nourished body and mind is a fundamental resource of oneself for survival, development, protection and participation and of the society for economic, political, social, cultural and environmental development which is a culmination of a lasting quality life,” she says.

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