COINCIDING with the celebration of Women’s Month, Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas is advocating on twin measures that provide maternal health care during pregnancy and childbirth.
Pending for approval in the House of Representatives are House Bill 1382 or an “Act Increasing the Maternity Leave Period to 100 days for Female Employees in Government Services and in the Private Sector, and Granting an Option to Extend for an Additional 30 days Without Pay” and House Bill 1806 or “An Act Establishing a Pregnancy Support Services Office Under the Department of Health.”
In filing these two bills, Vargas underscored the need to reduce maternal mortality and provide better health care for the children especially newly born.
Citing various studies of the DoH and World Health Organization (WHO), the
Philippines had a lifetime risk of maternal death of 1 in every 140 mother.
Records showed that around 11 Filipino mothers die everyday or an estimated 4,500 every year due to severe hemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, sepsis and problems related to obstructed labor and abortion.
In addition, the Philippines is among 68 countries which contribute to 97 percent of maternal, neonatal and child health deaths worldwide. About half of the deaths of Filipino children under five happen in the first 28 days of life.
Taking a cue, Vargas has proposed increasing the maternity leave period from the regular 60 days to 100, which main purpose is give more time for the mother to take care of her child and herself.
“We recognize and appreciate the sacrifices of women in giving birth, and therefore as a way of saying thank you, let’s give them more essential time to rest with proper heath care,” Vargas said.
“Recent studies show that extending paid maternity leave for new mothers reduces infant mortality. The cause is yet to be known but it may be linked to longer periods of breast feedings and better health care,” he added.
In support to the first measure, Vargas is also proposing the establishment of a Pregnancy Support Services to be initiated by the DoH.
Vargas, vice chairman of the appropriations committee, pointed out that he proposed office will be tasked to encourage and assist pregnant women to carry their children to live birth by providing services during and after pregnancy.
This measure alleviates pregnant women and their families from the difficulties that may otherwise lead to abortion or death of a child during childbirth.
Under the bill, the DoH is mandated to develop and implement a public outreach campaign to provide information on pregnancy support services to vulnerable women, including those in low-income, urban and rural areas.
“Saving the lives of mothers and their newborns requires not just medical intervention but also education on how to improve maternal and child health care,” Vargas said.
Vargas, a member of the PDP-Laban, stressed that health services are most effective in an environment supportive of women’s empowerment, protection, and education.
The solon is urging his colleagues to give importance to these two bills because in least developed countries, including the Philippines, pregnancy is 300 times deadlier.
It is unfortunate that Philippines is unlikely to reach its target to reduce maternal mortality to less than three deaths a day under the Millennium Development Goals.
-March 07, 2018