DOH-12 moves to reduce maternal deaths

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/06 Jan.) — The Department of Health (DOH) in Region 12 will focus its efforts this year on the strengthening of community health teams as it moves to further lower the cases of maternal deaths within the region.

Dr. Teogenes Baluma, DOH Region 12 director, said Monday they have lined up a series of trainings in the coming months for community or barangay health workers to help improve their capability in handling pregnancy-related cases and other local health concerns.

He said such move is part of the agency’s continuing efforts to properly address the problem on maternal deaths and attain its commitment to the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

Under the MDG, the government committed to reduce the country’s maternal mortality ratio to 52 for every 100,000 live births by the year 2015.

Baluma said the maternal death rate in Region 12 is presently at 81 per 100,000 live births or 29 more than the MDG target.

Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

“We’re already within striking distance to our target and we’re doubling our efforts to achieve that by 2015,” the official said.

Aside from the strengthening of the community health teams, Baluma said they will enhance their linkages with the barangay councils and community leaders.

He said they will mainly tap them in the monitoring of pregnancy-related problems that might arise in their respective areas.

“We will improve our coordination systems to ensure the proper monitoring and handling of these cases,” he said.

Baluma said they will also continue with their awareness and education campaigns on maternal mortality and the upgrading of health facilities, especially in the remote areas.

“We’re giving more emphasis on making sure that our pregnant mothers will get proper checkups, give birth in a proper health facility and attended to by well-skilled and trained practitioners,” he said.

The DOH central office earlier directed the regional health offices to double their efforts in addressing the cases of maternal deaths by improving the delivery of health services at the community level.

Among the strategies adopted by the agency is the upgrading and improvement of health centers and health services, especially for the poor.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona noted that maternal deaths are “highly preventable through effective family planning services, antenatal care, and access to health facilities capable of handling complications.”

Meantime, Baluma said the region is nearing its target in terms of child mortality, of which the national average is presently at 32 to 30 per 1,000 live births.

The country’s MDG target is 27 deaths per 1,000 live births.

“We’re on track towards attaining the child mortality target and we’re moving to further reduce that through sustained efforts in child health programs like immunization,” he added. (MindaNews)