Cordillera maternal health incidents drop by 50 percent

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BAGUIO CITY  – Maternal health incidents in the remote villages of the Cordillera dropped by at least 50 percent following the implementation of appropriate interventions coursed through the Japan International Cooperating Agency (JICA) over the past several years, senior health officials said here.

Dr. Amelita Pangilinan, assistant regional director of the Cordillera office of the Department of Health (DOH-CAR), said that from 24 maternal deaths regionwide in 2013, the incidents dropped to only 12 at the end of the third quarter and luckily, there were no more reported maternal deaths during the last quarter of 2014.

However, Pangilinan admitted prior to the implementation of foreign-assisted health projects, maternal deaths regionwide were fluctuating with 23 in 2011, 19 in 2012 before increasing to 24 in 2013.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed that there will be no more maternal deaths in the different parts of the region this year so that we will be able to exceed our compliance to one of the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which is the lowering of the high maternal deaths,” Pangilinan stressed.

She attributed the successful lowering of maternal deaths in the region to the KICA-funded project entitled “Strengthening of the Local Health System for Effective and Efficient Delivery of Maternal and Child Health Services” which is a 5-year intervention from February 2012 to February 2017.

Makoto Tobe, JICA project chief adviser, disclosed around P300 million will be infused by the Japanese government in order to ensure the successful implementation of designed projects in remote communities in the region to make sure that rural health centers are equipped with appropriate units of equipment to cater to the need of birthing mothers.

According to Tobe, the initial interventions of providing appropriate trainings for health workers and equipping health centers with sufficient birthing equipment were done in the provinces of Benguet, Apayao and Abra where there were high recorded maternal deaths but the project is now expanding to Mountain Province and Ifugao for the succeeding stages.

“We want the local health system in the region to be strengthened to deliver effective and efficient maternal and child health services. Once the whole project will commence in the next two years,” Tobe said.

He explained the construction of rural health units is lodged with the health department, thus, the health facilities enhancement program of the national government, while the series of trainings of health workers and the provision of state-of-the-art units of equipment will be coursed through the foreign-funded project.

The JICA official pointed out hospitals, rural health units and barangay health stations will become basic emergency obstetric and new born care, certified by the health department and that such institutions become maternal care package accredited by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation in the target sites.

The foreign-funded project is part of the Aquino health agenda which was geared towards achieving universal health care for all Filipinos, to ensure that all Filipinos, especially the disadvantaged, have equitable access for affordable health care. By Dexter A. See

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