Monday, July 11, 2011

Guaranteed Safe Delivery for Mothers

Guaranteed Safe Delivery for Mothers
By Irene V. Fernando
Manila Bulletin
July 11, 2011

MANILA, Philippines — Launched last year as the branded generics company of Pfizer Philippines, Pfizer Parke Davis (PPD) is expanding its CSR efforts by opening its first Nay Bahay Ligtas Paanakan Center—a lying-in maternal facility that will give birthing mothers from indigent communities a safe place for labor with the expert supervision of licensed midwives.

The birthing centers, designed by young architect Jason Buensalido, will be made out of recycled shipping containers, complete with all the necessary equipment and attending staff.

The move is part of PPD’s partnership with the government in addressing the lack of quality maternal healthcare in the country. The pilot center is located in Minabalac, Camarines Sur and is set to open this August.

“We are going to build two lying-in centers this year, with the second one slated to begin construction in October in Balugao, Pangasinan,” shares Obet Bautista, general manager for Pfizer Park Davis during the Bulong Pulungan last June 28 at Sofitel Philippine Plaza.

“We will also begin intensive training for barangay health workers to ensure that the community will get the topnotch health services that they deserve,” he adds. Aside from the Department of Health (DOH), PPD is also working with the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), Zuellig Family Foundation, and Lowe Inc.

Maternal Mortality Rate
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 11 women in the Philippines die every day due to pregnancy-related complications. Given this rate, it is no surprise that the country is having a hard time achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) set by the United Nations (UN) on reducing the maternal mortality rate by 2015.

In a presentation before the members of the press, experts discussed the importance of addressing a nation’s maternal healthcare. According to Dr. Rebecca Ramos, consultant for Women’s Health Care Foundation, “good quality maternity services can save lives of newborns” and that “most maternal deaths happen during labor, delivery and the immediate post-partum period.”

She shared that the Philippines is included in the list of countries in Asia where there is a high rate of Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), together with Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and Mongolia.

She also cited how Sri Lanka used to have high MMR but was able to reduce the percentage by introducing a system of health facilities, expanding midwifery skills, decreasing use of home childbirth and births by untrained birth attendants, and promoting family planning.

Training Birth Attendants
Under the DOH’s Administrative Order 2008-2009, the government must ensure that “every delivery of a child is facility-based and managed by skilled birth attendants.” But with the limited budget, there are not enough lying-in facilities in the country—especially in rural areas.

Ramos also shared that the MMR in the country can be partly traced to delays in the decision to seek professional care and the delay in receiving care from skilled personnel. “There is a need for staff that can provide service for 24 hours and who are well-trained on improved maternity and neonatal care practices,” she says. This is why part of PPD’s program is to train birth attendants.

According to DOH Undersecretary Teodoro Herbosa, these Nay Bahay centers will greatly complement the existing hospitals and health centers in the provinces. “There is an existing rural (health) center. What we do is build a birthing room and train people.” With the memorandum of understanding with PPD, DOH is hoping to achieve its target of coming up with 4,000 birth facilities around the country.

Aside from the lying-in centers, PPD will also launch other programs in the succeeding months, such as the Alkansya Program that will help would-be mothers save for the birthing expenses and the Buntis Congress which seeks to make would-be fathers more actively involved during the entire pregnancy period.