Monday, November 19, 2012

Feature: Birthing made easy

The fact remains that 11 Filipino mothers die of pregnancy-related complications everyday. There are several reasons for this: Lack of access to health facilities before, during and after a woman’s pregnancy and delivery; lack of money to bring the pregnant woman to a health facility; the long travel to a health facility; unavailability of transportation to the facility, and lack of reproductive health information, particularly family planning methods. Lack of skilled midwives and risky deliveries made at home significantly contribute to high maternal mortality.

Thanks to a government-private partnership, the number of such deaths can be drastically reduced, and in effect, help the Philippine government meet — though partially — United Nations Millennium Development Goal Number 5 of reducing maternal mortality by year 2015.

Responsible for this welcome development is Pfizer Parke Davis, the generic medicines company of Pfizer, which is opening in Minalabac, Camarines Sur next month, the first of 4,000 lying-in maternal facilities across the country.

The program, called “NayBahay Ligtas Paanakan Center,” consists of lying-in maternal facilities that provide birthing mothers from indigent communities a safe place for labor with the expert supervision of licensed midwives.

The program is a cooperative undertaking with the Department of Health, and involves local government units to provide proper maternal healthcare to rural communities.

“Our public-private partnership with DOH has taken a step forward with the construction of the first Nay Bahay Ligtas Paanakan Center,” Robert Bautista, general manager of Pfizer Parke Davis, said at the Bulong Pulungan media forum the other day. “We are set to build two lying-in centers for this year, with the second one slated to begin construction in October in Balugao, Pangasinan. On top of this, we will also begin intensive training for barangay health workers, to ensure that communities will get topnotch health services that they deserve.”

Dr. Ted Herbosa, Health undersecretary and Dr. Rebecca Ramos of the Women’s Health Care Foundation, took turns explaining the importance of the program in reducing maternal mortality. According to them, out of three million pregnancies occurring every year, half are unplanned and one-third of these end in abortions, and that over half of births occur at home, and one-third of them are assisted by traditional birth attendants. Around 57 percent of the poorest quintile do not have access to skilled birth attendants compared to only 20 percent of the richest quintile.

Yes, there will be lectures on family planning at the centers, said Dr. Herbosa, who added that an information campaign will include convincing men to attend the lectures as well as support the Reproductive Health bill. He said, if the RH bill is passed, maternal mortality will be reduced by one-half.

The Nay Bahay lying-in centers, designed by young architect Jason Buensalido, will have a sustainable, eco-friendly design using innovated and recycled shipping containers turned into sanitary, high-quality lying-in centers. Mothers are assisted in deliveries by skilled midwives. Pre-natal and post-natal check-ups will be available. Medicines will be provided. Charges will be very minimal, and studied to be affordable by pregnant mothers from poor communities.

Dr. Marilen Danguilan, formerly a UN consultant on maternal health, took on the role of advising the direction of the program, and Marco Flores, head of public relations and corporate responsibility of Pfizer Parke Davis, is in charge of publicity. NGOs partnering with Pfizer Parke Davis are the Philippine Business for Social Progress and Zuellig Family Foundation. Lowe Inc. has crafted the “Nay Bahay” Ligtas Paanakan center social campaign.

Source: Philippine Star