Data from the Gabriela Women’s Party show that there is one death every two hours due to complications during pregnancy. Eleven women are dying everyday. Gabriela’s landmark bill can provide much needed relief to poverty-stricken women and their families by ensuring full access to health services.
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — KJ, 28, a mother of three said she did not avail of the supposedly free health services of the government during her past three pregnancies. During her last pregnancy, she said, she spent $139 in a public lying-in center. “Since it was supposedly free, I thought that I would be able to save money. I had difficulties not only in giving birth but also in raising funds to pay the lying-in center,” KJ said.
“That is why it is important for the Comprehensive Reproductive Health (RH) Bill to be passed in Congress for us, women, who have low income. This will enable us to have full access to health services,” KJ said, adding that the reproductive health bill should be “pro-poor and pro-women and not focused only on population control.”
GWP’s RH Bill can potentially bring much needed relief to poverty-stricken women and their families by ensuring full access to health services. (Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil / bulatlat.com)
It has been 16 years since the first RH Bill was filed in the House of Representatives. But years have passed and an RH bill has never been enacted because of the vehement opposition of the Catholic Church.
The Comprehensive Reproductive Health Bill was filed during the 15th Congress by the Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP). GWP Representative Luzviminda Ilagan said the bill was filed with the awareness that population growth was never the culprit and thus, population control is never a solution to poverty.
“We are pushing for the enactment of a comprehensive reproductive health law recognizing the social injustice and inequality and the consequent poverty that majority of the Filipino women have to contend with,” the GWP said in a signed statement.
Salient Points of RH Bill
The GWP’s Comprehensive Reproductive Health Bill and five other bills have been consolidated into House Bill 4244 or An Act Providing for a National Policy on Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development and for other Purposes.
HB 4244 is far from perfect, said the GWP in a statement. “We are pushing for this legislation along with the consciousness that this is not an assurance that women’s right to full access to health care services will be easily given.” However, the GWP said HB 4244 brings to the fore a landmark bill that would help address the alarming increase in maternal deaths, infant deaths and HIV cases. “It is a landmark bill that can potentially bring much needed relief to poverty-stricken women and their families by ensuring full access to reproductive health services.”
The GWP presented salient points of the HB 4244 lifted from and in agreement with the Comprehensive Reproductive Health Bill:
Midwives for skilled attendance — the local government units (LGU) with the assistance of the Department of Health (DOH), shall employ an adequate number of midwives to achieve a minimum ratio of one full-time skilled birth attendant for every 150 deliveries per year.
Emergency obstetric care — each province and city, with the assistance of the DOH, shall establish or upgrade hospitals with adequate and qualified personnel, equipment and supplies to be able to provide emergency obstetric care.
Access to family planning — all accredited health facilities shall provide a full range of modern family planning methods, except in specialty hospitals which may render such services on optional basis. For poor patients, such services shall be fully covered by PhilHealth Insurance and/or government financial assistance on a no balance billing.
Maternal and newborn health care in crisis situations — LGUs and the DOH shall ensure that a Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for reproductive health, including maternal and neonatal health care kits and services, as defined by the DOH, will be given proper attention in crisis situations such as disasters and humanitarian crises.
Gabriela says an alarming number of maternity deaths belong to the marginalized sector. (Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil / bulatlat.com)
Maternal death review — all LGU, national and local government hospitals, and other public health units shall conduct annual maternal death review in accordance with the guidelines set by the DOH.
Roles of local government in family planning programs — the LGUs shall ensure that poor families receive preferential access to services, commodities and programs for family planning. The role of Population Officers at municipal, city and barangay levels in the family planning effort shall be strengthened.
Benefits for serious and life — threatening reproductive health conditions – all serious and life threatening reproductive health conditions such as HIV and Aids, breast and reproductive tract cancers, obstetric complications menopausal and post-menopausal related conditions – shall be given the maximum benefits as provided by PhilHealth programs.
Mobile health care service — each Congressional district may be provided with at least one Mobile Health Care Service (MHCS) in the form of a van or other means of transportation appropriate to coastal or mountainous areas. The MHCS shall deliver health care goods and services to constituents more particularly to the poor and needy.