By KIMBERLIE OLMAYA N. QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — In efforts to reduce to zero the number of maternal and neonatal deaths, the Department of Health (DOH) has implemented the ‘no birthing at home’ policy.
In the Cordillera, the regional office of the DOH partnered with the Japan International cooperation Agency (JICA) for a project called Cordillera-wide Strengthening of the Local Health System for Efficient Delivery of Maternal and Child Health Services.
The JICA-funded project, covering Banguet, Abra and Apayao, will implement DOH’s ‘no birthing at home’ and will provide equipment such as delivery beds, examination tables, electric generators and air conditioning for health facilities; and trainings to health workers. Dr. Makoto Tobe, JICA chief advisor and Science and system Consultant said the project aims to increase the number of mothers giving birth in health facilities and in turn decrease those giving birth at home. He added that the projects main goal is to reduce maternal and neonatal deaths in the country.
Mia Rasalan, executive director of Community Health Education Services and Trainings in the Cordillera Region (Chestcore), said that giving birth at home is not the reason for the increase in maternal and neonatal deaths.
Rasalan said the root cause of lack of facilities and equipment is the minimal government budget allotment for health. She reiterated that government should allot higher health budget to address the problem on lack of health facilities, equipment and personnel.
“Health facilities should be brought nearer to the mothers and children, not the other way around. This will only happen if government will construct enough health facilities,” she said.
Rasalan said that the Cordillera, being a mountainous region, poses a greater challenge for government. She added that traveling long hours along the steep mountain slopes to reach the nearest health facility pose greater danger to pregnant women.
She added that World Health Organizations (WHO) standards provide that health care budget should be five percent of the country’s gross domestic product. “It is the responsibility of the government to ensure proper health care services for the people. It should not depend on foreign funding at should not be bound by foreign impositions,” she said.
“While training health workers is but right, the real problem is the lack of doctors, midwives and nurses all over the country. They should be trained according to the needs of the areas they are serving and not for export policy,” she said, adding that health workers remain overworked and underpaid.
Emily Quines of the City Health Department-Cordillera Administrative Region (CHD-CAR) disclosed that at the moment the region still needs at least 1,000 health workers. She explained that the building of health facility is dependent on the availability of health workers.
Quines said DOH CAR allotted budgets for the construction of health facilities but the construction can not push through because there are not enough health workers.
Moreover, Rasalan also said that traditional and indigenous birthing practices should be respected as these have been tried and tested through many generations. (By Northern Dispatch / Reposted by )