Jessievilita C. Fabian, MD, MCH
Badjao, health concepts, health service utilization
The limited access and use of health care services by the indigenous people pose a challenge in effectively assessing the health care system in terms of equitable delivery of quality health services to a large number of diverse ethnic populations of the country. Following a qualitative, descriptive research design, this study explored the concepts of health and health service utilization drawn from the narratives of 15 Badjao, aged 16 to 75 years old, who established residence at New Canaan, Matina Aplaya, Davao City for at least a year. The reasons for non-utilization of health services were explored while recommendations to improve health service utilization from the socio-cultural perspectives of the Badjaos were identified. Findings revealed that the Badjao informants defined health as freedom from illness and regard illness as impairment of physical strength and mobility. Procastination and a habit of social isolation delay health-seeking behaviors until the later stages of the disease. The informants included the following recommendations to improve health service utilization: provision of training to qualify Badjao BHWs, adequate health center facilities, supplies, and medical personnel, sustained health education program and community visits, and a health center facility for the Badjaos.