I recently spent a week in the Philippines for the Global Conference on Social Franchising for Health. I was honored to have the opportunity to work with the University of California, San Francisco to plan and implement this exciting conference.
Quick definition: “A social franchise is a network of private sector healthcare providers that are linked through agreements to provide socially beneficial health services under a common franchise brand.” (SF4Health)
The number of social franchises for health have significantly increased since the 1990s, with over 90 reported franchises as of 2014. These franchises network over 95,000 private physicians, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, and health workers in over 40 countries. This year, the University of California, San Francisco’s Global Health Group (GHG) brought together over 160 social franchise practitioners, implementers, policymakers, funders, and researchers in an exciting conference held in Mactan Island, Philippines.
The Philippines has among the highest concentration of Social Franchising organizations of any Middle Income Country, and with PhilHealth’s work to expand the range of services it covers, while collaborating with social franchise programs to expand access to health services in areas that are underserved by the public health system. It is a leader in coordination between the public and private sectors for many health services.
That’s the academic introduction. Now onto the personal story side. In the short, it was an incredible conference in an absolutely stunning setting! Our team spent months of careful, dedicated work preparing for this conference so it was a true joy to see it successfully implemented and see so much learning and excitement for future projects come out of the conference.
Participants brought so much energy and enthusiasm. Through presentations and networking, we shared knowledge, experience, successes and challenges that will strengthen health service offerings through social franchising.
Our trip on the way home included a 10-hour layover in South Korea, so we took advantage of the Korea Free Transit Tours offered at the airport. Our first trip out was into Seoul, starting at the Gyeongbokgung, the largest of the Five Grand Palaces.
We stopped at a temple in the heart of the city on our way to lunch.
Our traditional lunch of bibimbap was followed by a super fast look-about at Insa-dong, the famous and traditional shopping street.
Because we had such a long layover, we were able to sneak in a second trip, this time into Incheon. We started by crossing the Incheon Grand Bridge, the 6th largest bridge in the world and the largest and longest bridge in Korea. We then visited the Heungryunsa Temple, founded in 1376.
We also visited the Koren War Memorial, commemorating General McArthur’s landing at Incheon to take back the southern peninsula.
We packed a lot into this trip, from San Francisco to the Philippines to South Korea and back. I am grateful for such supportive and adventurous colleagues, and such a chance to learn during this trip in so many different ways.