PHO-Bukidnon eyes less maternal deaths in 2013

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/08 January) — “EBM” was a 33-year old mother from Dominorog village in Talakag town who died last year after giving birth for lack of prenatal care.

In 2011, she was warned by doctors at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center to space pregnancy or risk complications after giving birth to a stillborn baby.

She was one of the 27 mothers reported to have died from causes related to maternity in Bukidnon last year, Dr. Teresita Damasco, provincial health officer, said.

“We are working hard to cut it (maternal deaths) down, if possible to half,” she added.

According to the Provincial Health Office (PHO), the staff at the Talakag Municipal Health Office advised EBM in 2011 to visit the health center. Later, they said, they could no longer locate her.

They believed that her husband was either unaware or unconcerned about his wife’s condition. The family has moved to a house in a remote location.

So when she got pregnant again in 2012, she was not able to avail of prenatal care. When she was due to give birth she sought medical attention in neighboring Pangantucan town, which meant walking several kilometers from their home.

The Municipal Health Office of Pangantucan referred her to the Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center on June 2012.

She gave birth on June 11 at around 4:45 a.m. after a prolonged labor. But she died a little past noon of cardio-respiratory arrest with massive blood loss.

Gilda Ajoc of the PHO’s Maternal and Child Health Care Unit said EBM avoided the Talakag health office because she knew she would be referred to the Northern Mindanao Medical Center in Cagayan de Oro.

EBM went to Pangantucan, Ajoc added, from where she was brought to the Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center after her bleeding worsened.

The midwife in Pangantucan admitted that EMB never visited the health center.

“If she could have received prenatal attention, it could have helped her (go through her pregnancy and delivery),” Ajoc said.

The PHO reported 88 maternal deaths in Bukidnon since 2010, of which 27 occurred in 2012.

Damasco said at every turn of the year, they would not worry about firecracker-related injuries but about the number of maternity-related deaths.

She cited that most of those who died were Lumads coming from the remotest villages of the province where there are no enough health personnel who can attend to their needs.

One of these Lumad mothers, “EPM,” a Higaonon from Kalabugao in Impasugong town, died an hour after giving birth because the placenta got stuck. She delivered her eighth children at around 9:20a.m. on July 12 last year.

Ajoc said EPM saw a “hilot” throughout her pregnancy. She only went to the Municipal Health Office when it was too late, she added.

Damasco said they will continue to employ more strategies to reach all pregnant women wherever they are.

“It is important that all pregnant women will go through a prenatal care,” she said, adding they have ordered community health teams around the province to locate all pregnant women in villages.

To address the distance from the villages to the health centers, Damasco said, they are looking at building half-way houses for pregnant women.

“When they are due to give birth, they can stay in the facility, they don’t have to walk or travel far and risk complications,” she said.

But Damasco noted that they also have problems with Lumad mothers who refuse to see health professionals in the belief that it is against their culture.

She said this year they will tap tribal leaders to help them educate indigenous peoples.

She added this requires consulting the tribes and seeking the help of the Provincial Indigenous Cultural Communities Affairs Division and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)