MENU
Thinkwell

see more

Dodoma
Jakarta
Hanoi
Amman
Nairobi
Port-au-Prince
Monrovia
Cairo
Lusaka
Maputo
Dar Es Salaam
Antananarivo
Karachi
Dhaka
Manila
Thinkwell Manila

Getting to Know our Team in the Philippines

25 February 2021

Across the world, ThinkWell staff are moving the needle on improving health and well-being around the globe. We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to some of our staff in our offices, starting with conversations with members of our Philippines team.

Maria (Marife) Eufemia Yap, Senior Technical Advisor

Maria (Marife) Yap

What was your life like before ThinkWell and why did you decide to join ThinkWell?

There really isn’t much difference between my life now and before I joined ThinkWell. Professionally, my work concerns have been and continue to be anchored on health systems and development. Undergirding all these is my passion and dedication to teaching and mentoring young professionals to become more responsible and relevant people that can help catalyze changes in the health sector and in the Philippines. I feel very fortunate that working at ThinkWell allows me to carry out what I believe are the important contributions that I can make to young health professionals, to the health sector, and to the Philippines. It is for this reason that I joined ThinkWell.

What do you view as the greatest challenge to improving health and wellbeing in your country?

In my opinion, the problems and challenges we confront as we strive to improve the health and wellbeing of our fellow Filipinos are rooted in leadership and governance in various levels of society. Unfortunately, many of the national and local elected officials operate in a very narrow world that does not have a systematic capture of interconnected concerns and issues that plague the Philippine health system. These mindsets and dispositions are so rooted in historical, cultural, and societal constructs that unfortunately cause much of the fragmentation in the health sector. Thus, it is important to re-shape the way people think, feel, and behave about health and the way health is accessed and delivered.

What makes you hopeful about health progress in your country?

There are many talented, creative, committed, and courageous young professionals who work both in the public and private sectors whose work impacts health. They give me a lot of hope. In addition, there are also many committed and competent public servants who, amidst and despite challenges and difficulties faced, continue to tough it out working in the public health system. All this gives me hope and helps me continue to contribute to helping health progress in the Philippines.

What’s been the most meaningful lesson that you’ve learned during your health career?

I sincerely believe that to be effective in re-shaping the way people think, feel, and behave about health, two ingredients are fundamental: relationships and communication. The health sector is a relational sector; to be effective in implementing prevention and health lifestyle, one must put the person or patient at center stage. This means that one must build a relationship that fosters trust that assures better understanding and compliance. The second factor is communication. In ensuring good health, one must communicate appropriately and effectively to engage the patient and beneficiary to become co-responsible for her/his health. In the final analysis, the person whom we serve must be at the core of all our programs, plans, and activities.

What’s a health statistic or fact that you can’t get out of your head? Why should everyone know it?

As a young physician, I was bothered by the information that seven out of ten Filipinos die without seeing a doctor. Even if this fact is not solidly proven by a statistic, I think this reality is still true even up to now. The circumstances may be different now, but I think there are still many Filipinos who die without receiving care from a physician. I always remember this piece of information and use this as a reason for waking up every day and contributing what I can to address this situation. This is a reason why I think this information is important for Filipinos to bear in mind.

Geminn Apostol, Technical Advisor

Gemminn Apostol

What was your life like before ThinkWell and why did you decide to join ThinkWell?

Prior to joining ThinkWell, I was a health systems researcher and an educator, while doing social enterprise work and community organizing on the side. I decided to join ThinkWell to tap into a global resource of opportunities and knowledge that I can hopefully optimize and apply to improve the health and well-being of my fellow Filipinos.

What do you view as the greatest challenge to improving health and wellbeing in your country?

The greatest challenge continues to be the vicious cycle of poverty and inequity that continue to shape and influence how health is accessed, provided to, seen, and acted on by Filipinos. While the health system is paramount, it is these social determinants of health and the environment of volatility, uncertainly, complexity, and ambiguity that we find ourselves in that stand to have a greater impact on the health and wellbeing of people.

What makes you hopeful about health progress in your country?

Apart from the recently enacted Universal Health Care law which opens up significant windows of opportunity for the health sector in the Philippines, what consistently rekindles my hope for the country’s health system is the growing critical mass of young professionals from different disciplines gathering together to move health reform forward.

What’s been the most meaningful lesson that you’ve learned during your health career?

The most meaningful lesson I have learned is that service and excellence should go hand in hand. The greatest service that professionals can do is to excel in their areas of work and impact. Consequently, all excellence is worthless if not offered to greater service for a cause greater than oneself.

What’s a health statistic or fact that you can’t get out of your head? Why should everyone know it?

A health statistic I can’t get out of my head is the fact that only 10-15% percent of health outcomes are attributed to healthcare services. The rest lies in efforts aimed at improving “the conditions where people grow, live, learn, play, work, and age in.”

Helena Alvior, Technical Advisor

Helena Alvoir

What was your life like before ThinkWell and why did you decide to join ThinkWell?

I am a public health graduate who proceeded to become a physician. I was a medical clerk when my father was diagnosed with colon cancer. My first-hand experience of it–the clinical and the financial catastrophic burden–solidified the importance of prevention and public health in my mind. I found myself in an NGO working to improve local health systems for five years. I then relocated back to my home region while still maintaining my network as independent consultant. I joined ThinkWell because it gave me an opportunity to continue working in my home region while helping create impact and change in the health systems development arena.

What do you view as the greatest challenge to improving health and wellbeing in your country?

I think most Filipinos are fatalistic and used to the current fragmented health system. It is also very politicized. The challenge is to make more politicians health leaders/champions on behalf of their constituents.

What makes you hopeful about health progress in your country?

The Universal Health Care law of 2019 is an opportunity for the Philippines to boldly reform the fragmented health system. It is a big challenge but also brings great hope.

What’s been the most meaningful lesson that you’ve learned during your health career?

Improving systems is daunting work, requiring much of individual and collective wills. It entails deep awareness of culture and context, practice of dialogue, blending of different expertise, and teamwork. At its heart, it’s working with people, with diverse ambitions, agendas, wants, and needs. It helps when you can dig deep into your core purpose and passion, keep steady, balance, and adapt.

What’s a health statistic or fact that you can’t get out of your head? Why should everyone know it?

Fifty-four percent of the total health expenditure in the Philippines is from out-of-pocket. Additionally, around 1.5 million Filipinos are impoverished due to catastrophic health spending. We should endeavor to create and improve systems that offer more prevention and financial protection.

Susan Rosales, Operations Manager

Susan Rosales

What was your life like before ThinkWell and why did you decide to join ThinkWell?

I have worked in global health and development for 19 years as regional program administrator/admin and finance manager/office manager. I decided to join ThinkWell to continue my development work. Since ThinkWell focuses on health, I joined because I have been working with the Philippines Department of Health and Philhealth for so many years and I wanted to continue supporting the improvement of health systems in the Philippines even though I am not a health worker.

What do you view as the greatest challenge to improving health and wellbeing in your country?

From the point of view of non-medical professional, I think that the greatest challenge is how the government can support and provide UHC to every Filipino in terms of funding, improved processes and procedures, improvement of public hospitals infrastructure and medical equipment/supplies and health human resources.

What makes you hopeful about health progress in your country?

With all the technical assistance provided by different donor agencies to the Department of Health and Philhealth, I still believe that all these will bear fruit and hope that someday the health system in the Philippines will be at par with the best countries in the medical field.

Designed by BothAssociates   /  Photo Credits