By Roi Lomotan
Local health officials emphasized the importance of pregnant women having monthly check-ups to detect any risks associated with pregnancy and prevent complications arising during childbirth as they continue to raise awareness about Department of Health (DOH)’s Safe Motherhood Program.
The program’s main objective is to ensure that Filipino women will have full access to quality maternal health care services so they will have a safer pregnancy and delivery of their child.
Speaking in a Kapihan Forum recently, City Health Officer Dr. Ma. Sarah Tala urged pregnant mothers to undergo pre-natal check-ups especially during the first trimester.
“Diha nato makit-an kung risgo ba ang pag-mapdos niya or dili para maka-refer ta dayon or makatambag kita dayon for the necessary intervention at that early (stage) of pregnancy (We will be able to figure out if it will be a risky pregnancy for the mother. We can also refer or provide necessary interventions at that early stage of pregnancy),” Tala disclosed.
Usually, pregnant women take their first pre-natal check-up at the start of their second trimester or on the fourth month of their pregnancy which is a bit late according to the health official.
“Dili lang kay ganahan ta quality siya pero importante para makita nato kung normal ba or risgo ba ang iyang pinagmamapdos (We don’t only want to assure that quality services are given but we also want to know if it will be risky or normal pregnancy for the mother),” Tala said.
Some of the City Health Office’s services for pregnant women include provision of tetanus vaccine and essential vitamins and minerals like calcium and iron which will continue even after the child’s delivery.
After childbirth, women will still be monitored by barangay health workers who will teach them the proper way of breastfeeding while children will be entitled to various vaccines and immunization programs of the City Health Office.
These maternal health care services can be availed at the barangay health facilities or even at the Basic Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (BEMOC) facilities or birthing homes in the city.
In relation to the Safe Motherhood Program, DOH Provincial Officer Dr. Socrates Villamor cited that there has been a change in the strategic design for safe motherhood services: from identifying females who are “at risk” during pregnancy to preventing health complications of pregnant women encompassing all age-groups and sectors.
“Before, we identify the high risk pregnancies during pre-natal period karon ang atong approach is to prepare all pregnant for the complication sa childbirth. Dili na ta moingon kaning mga batan-on high risk ni sila compared to others or katong mga edad-edaran na. Ang tanan na i-consider nato para ma-determine, ma-preparar nato silang mothers na pregnant for possible complications sa child birth (Before, we only provide interventions to high risk pregnancies identified during pre-natal period but our focus right now is to prepare all pregnant women for the complications during childbirth. We can no longer say those who belong to the younger or older age brackets are high risk compared to others. We are now getting inclusive. We consider all and we want to prepare them and prevent any possible complications during their delivery),” Villamor explained.
The program also directs DOH to collaborate with Local Government Units (LGUs) in establishing cost-effective approach in delivering health services especially to disadvantaged women and also high quality maternal health service as required by DOH Administrative Order 2016 -0035.
Villamor agreed that LGUs should establish service delivery networks and birth plans intended for pregnant women living in the hinterland areas like allocation of transportation vehicle to help bring them to the nearest birthing centers in time for their childbirth.
Moreover, creating halfway houses near birthing centers is also important so that those pregnant women living in far-flung areas will have places to stay while waiting for their “due date.”
Villamor noted that women who have given birth more than five times should be brought to a comprehensive emergency maternal and neo-natal care facility or higher level hospitals if they are found pregnant again for monitoring because they are more prone to develop health complications.
Health officials are heightening the public’s knowledge of this in line also with the observance of National Family Planning Month which highlights the importance of availing maternal health care programs and responsible parenthood services through its theme “Serbisyong Pangkalahatan Tungo sa Planadong Kinabukasan.”