In its bid to ensure the safety of pregnant women from conception to post-birth childcare, the local government of Quezon City partnered with several health institutions to further guarantee the wellbeing of both mother and child.
According to Quezon City Mayor Herbert M. Bautista, the city government is striving hard to achieve the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and is focusing on the third item, which is on good health and wellbeing of the citizens.
The mayor told participants at the recent 4th Maternal and Neonatal Health Summit, organized by the Quezon City Health Department together with United Laboratories Inc. (Unilab), that the city government will ensure UN development goals of boosting public health, improving maternal health, and reducing neonatal mortality through a localized and sustainable Maternal Newborn Child Health and Nutrition (MNCHN) approach and by implementing a functional Service Delivery Network (SDN).
Bautista underscored the priority programs of his government to address maternal and neonatal health, particularly the Seal of Excellence, which seeks to enforce the strict compliance of private lying-ins to the Department of Health’s (DOH’s) standards and to enhance public-private partnership in resource mobilization, monitoring and evaluation.
The Seal of Excellence is also the quality label awarded to private lying-in clinics in Quezon City that have met all essential maternal, newborn, child health and nutrition (MNCHN) indicators using the DOH-approved MNCHN tools, such as the DOH’s License to Operate (LTO); PhilHealth Accreditation, Sanitary Permit and membership in the City’s Safe Delivery Network (SDN). Recipients of the Seal of Excellence for 2016 already reached 23 clinics and lying-ins.
“Reforms in the local health systems will considerably lower the risks of dying secondary to pregnancy and childbirth. We need to standardize regulation and accreditation of birthing facilities and enhance further the referral network, reporting, and transport systems to improve service delivery,” said Dr. Verdades P. Linga, Quezon City Health Officer III.
In her presentation, DOH Assistant Secretary Maria Francia M. Laxamana highlighted the efforts of the department in taking steps to further improve the health and well-being of the Filipinos, especially the poorest of the poor. She said the DOH is looking into improving health-emergency management within clinics and lying-ins, including the provision of proper healthcare products and services to those who are in need.
Laxamana also emphasized the importance of partnerships with the private sector to further extend the reach of healthcare in the country.
This was echoed by Unilab. “Our continuous collaboration with Quezon City on maternal and child health has resulted in sustained community engagements that generated more participative stakeholders. Sharing of values and resources are two components that make our public-private partnership work. We are optimistic that our initiative in setting the standards for health services delivery will prove that strict compliance to public health services delivery can be done,” says Claire D. Papa, head for External Affairs and Social Partnerships of Unilab.
Several health professionals presented their respective programs during the conference in line with Quezon City’s promotion of prenatal and postnatal care.
City Surveillance officer Dr. Rolando Cruz said the Quezon City HIV Testing Department is implementing the same-day result testing so patients would be able to act on their diagnosis right away. Since 1984, the city diagnosed over 3,496 HIV and AIDS patients. For January to June of 2016 alone, Quezon City detected 427 HIV-positive patients. However, Cruz noted that not all the HIV-positive patients are Quezon City residents, citing that 56.64 percent of their patients are from neighboring cities.
In 2015, around 65 health centers and seven public lying-in clinics in Quezon City served 97,221 pregnant women, with those testing positive for HIV or AIDS immediately given proper care and treatment.
Dr. Alejandrino Perez presented updates on PhilHealth’s pregnancy packages, emphasizing the need for affordable and accessible financing products to lessen maternal deaths in the country. In 2013, about 3,000 Filipino mothers died from childbirth out of 2.4 million deliveries. Maternal mortality was at 110 to 130 per 100,000 live births.
“Ang main goal talaga natin is maibaba ang maternal death without hampering the family budget,” he said.
Relying on technology for better health services and reliable health-management system in health centers, Arturo Ongkeko discussed the importance of the Computerized Health Information System (CHITS) in managing the Mag-Ina Telereferral System (MInTS) and Birth Registration Tracking System (BiRTS) across all health institutions.
According to the National Telehealth Center website, MInTS aims to strengthen the service-delivery network of maternal and neonatal referral and feedback process among health facilities, while BiRTS seeks easier birth registration through digital form from the CHITS to the local civil registry.
These systems have eased and organized, all not only maternal, medical records across the city.
Meanwhile, focusing on the general health of the child is the Batang 1000 Program. The joint project between the Quezon City Health Department (QCHD) and UNILAB aims to reduce the prevalence of stunting in children across the city.
Launched early this year, the program covers the period from conception of the child to the pregnancy of the mother to the child’s toddlerhood. In October, over 600 expecting mothers and mothers with newborn babies from different barangays were enrolled by the QCHD to the program, making available to them comprehensive health care packages from pregnancy to the time they give birth.
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