Stories of Public Health through Local Art-based Community Engagement.
SOLACE is led by colleagues in the Institute for Global Health.
In November 2017, Keele University officially launched the SOLACE project – a new interdisciplinary research project to tackle public health issues in the Philippines through local art-based community engagement and ethnographic fieldwork.
SOLACE – Stories of Public Health through Local Art-based Community Engagement – is led by Keele University in collaboration with Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. It brings academics from clinical and humanities backgrounds together to work towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically addressing health and well-being in the Philippines.
In the Philippines around 25% of people live below the poverty line, and the weak infrastructure makes access to healthcare a big challenge. Only 10% of the country's clinicians work in rural areas - where more than half of the population live - and the shortage of primary care doctors is one of the most urgent challenges for public health in the country.
SOLACE brings together researchers from different disciplines including medicine, social sciences, arts and humanities to present their findings on how to improve primary health care to the government, community organisations and the people living in rural and remote areas. The two-year project has been funded jointly by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Medical Research Council under the Global Challenges Research Fund.
Dr Lisa Dikomitis, Senior Lecturer in Sociology of Health at Keele University and Principal Investigator of SOLACE, said: “We launched the project in the Philippines in January 2018 at Ateneo de Manila University, and worked in the Province of Northern Samar, where more than 600,000 inhabitants have only about 65 doctors between them.
“We are unearthing the stories and experiences of health and health care from the locals who live in this area, and exploring how can we improve and provide efficient healthcare in areas that are difficult to reach. We are also looking at how we can attract and retain health professionals in areas that are remote and underserved.
“I am excited to have researchers from different academic backgrounds because we all view the world through different (disciplinary) eyes – clinicians are trained to focus on the body and illness; anthropologists will look at how people in the barangay (villages) live and artists will look at creative solutions and see how to improve their lives in different ways. I think it is important to bring all these people together to look at the same problem and each think of different solutions.”
The team will shortly be presenting its findings to policy makers, including the local and national government in the Philippine government.