Regular health care needs of pregnant and lactating mothers prioritized

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and World Vision continued assisting vulnerable pregnant and lactating women (PLW) in the province of Catanduanes, months after Super Typhoon Goni devastated the island in 2020.

PLW received cash assistance that they could use to avail of much-needed health care to avoid deaths and complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.

Madonna, 31, was four months pregnant when she received the cash assistance. “I was able to pay my debt to our neighbour tricycle driver who took me to the hospital when I was about to give birth,” she says. The tricycle fare cost around Php500.00 ($10) one way.

Madonna’s husband, Allan, irregularly earns between Php50-Php200 a day from selling cut woods used for cooking.

A 2017 UNFPA report showed that an estimated 295,000 women worldwide died of causes related to childbirth and pregnancy.

With proper health facilities and skilled health workers, maternal deaths can be prevented. The Global Goals call for bringing the maternal ratio down to 70 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030.

Madonna recalls a case of her neighbour who died while giving birth. “When I heard about that, I was worried. That’s why I usually give birth in hospitals where there are skilled health attendants. I felt much safer.”

UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, in the Philippines, and child-focused organization World Vision also provided health centres with generators, water containers and water purification tablets, among others. In partnership with the Provincial Health Office, maternity and dignity kits were also distributed for pregnant and lactating women; and women with disabilities.

Madonna is thankful for the maternity kit that contains maternity pads and washable diaper cloths, among others. “I’ve been wanting to buy these diaper clips but couldn’t since we don’t have spare money. When I saw these in the bag, I was happy!” she shares.

All beneficiaries completed four prenatal visits and gave birth in health facilities with skilled birth attendants such as doctors, nurses and midwives.


Local health workers’ crucial role in post-natal care

Post-natal care is as important as prenatal care. Bleeding, sepsis and hypertensive disorders can all take place after a mother gave birth and returns home. Newborns are likewise extremely vulnerable in the immediate aftermath of birth. It is in this stage that barangay health workers (BHW) play an important role in monitoring both mother and newborn’s health.

Menchie Baynosa, 42, a barangay health worker in Maygnaway, San Andres has 7 mothers who just given birth under her care.

“Part of my task is to monitor these mothers. I remind and ensure that they were given their vitamins such as calcium and ferrous sulfate,” Menchie, a mother of three, says.

Menchie admits that although their village has a midwife, expectant mothers would usually go to the next village that has a birthing facility or go to Virac, the province’s capital, if the mother’s situation is complicated.

“I wish that one day we could have a birthing facility here so pregnant women will not go far to give birth,” she says. Brgy Maygnaway to Virac is 35km.

Menchie is one of the BHWs who received cash assistance from UNFPA and World Vision for monitoring newborns and lactating mothers. “I treated my fellow health workers with snacks from the cash assistance I get,” Menchie says laughing.