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DOH launches drive to cut maternal mortality in Samar

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05:58 AM February 7th, 2013

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By: Philip C. Tubeza, February 7th, 2013 05:58 AM

MANILA, Philippines—Mothers should not die while giving birth.

The Department of Health (DOH) made this statement Wednesday as it launched a P38.4 million public-private partnership (PPP) program with the private sector to lower the maternal mortality in Samar, one of the poorest areas in the country.

The DOH, pharmaceutical giant MSD and the Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF) joined hands to implement the Health Change Model, which will enhance health leadership and governance in 21 geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA) in Samar.

The program was launched even as the country’s maternal mortality ratio (MMR) worsened from 162 per 100,000 live births in 2006 to 221 per 100,000 live births in 2011.

Under the Millennium Development Goals, the country’s MMR should be at 52 per 100,000 live births by 2015.

“The problem cannot be solved by one party alone. Thus, in addition to our existing health programs to address the country’s problems in maternal health, public-private partnerships like this would enable us to combine our resources and deliver more impact to as many of our countrymen as possible,” Health Secretary Enrique Ona said.

Three-year project

MSD is providing P20 million for the three-year project while ZFF is shelling out P18.4 million for the project, which will cover far-flung municipalities in Eastern Samar (which has an MMR of 110 per 100,000 live births), Northern Samar (89), and Western Samar (134).

Under the program, 63 mayors, 34 health leaders and professionals as well as health officers and community leaders will be trained to help improve the health of mothers in these areas.

“The Health Change Model begins with training the local government executives and health officers, empowering them in reforming and strengthening the local health systems and building the capacity of the barangay health workers and midwives,” said ZFF president Ernie Garilao.

Training program

The program will train 102 midwives and 1,862 barangay (village) health workers on antenatal and emergency obstetric care.

It will also help improve the health facilities, equipment, transportation and antenatal and obstetric care in 21 local government units.

Organizers expect that by the end of the project, around 90 percent of pregnant women in the covered GIDAs would have sought antenatal and post-obstetric care, 75 percent of deliveries would be done in health facilities and 90 percent of deliveries handled by skilled birth attendants.

“The aim of this very significant corporate responsibility initiative is to help create a world where no woman has to die from pregnancy and childbirth and to help reduce the burden of maternal mortality globally,” said MSD Asia Pacific president Patrick Bergstedt.

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