La Union town credits zero maternal mortality to training for women

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 29 2019 07:51 PM | Updated as of May 30 2019 10:32 AM

La Union town credits zero maternal mortality to training for women 1
Hermie Velasco (left), a medical doctor, leads a health campaign in the town of San Gabriel, La Union. Photo courtesy of San Gabriel tourism Facebook page

MANILA - Training indigent women with basic medical skills and knowledge helps reduce health risks and maternal deaths in a community, a La Union town mayor said Wednesday.

No maternal deaths have been recorded in San Gabriel, La Union since the 4th class municipality began training women on family health concerns, its municipal mayor Herminigildo M. Velasco told reporters.

"Wala na kaming maternal deaths for the succeeding years after we had that 'Women in the Sitios' kasi mas aware na sila," he said on the sidelines of an awarding ceremony in Quezon City.

"If they know these red-flag signs, they could refer the member of the family kaagad, hindi yung late na, may complications na," he said.

The municipality's "Women in the Sitios" program began in 2008 when Velasco, a doctor by profession, was still the area's health officer.

Health officers would trek to the sitios or sites in highlands and mountains at least once a year to conduct 1-2 day seminars on how to tell if something is wrong with a family member and what they should do about it.

"Most of the population there belong to the different tribes of the ka-Igorotan... It's always the women who are culturally designated as nurturers of our home," Velasco said.

"Appreciating that concept, nakita natin na mae-empower 'yung women through medical knowledge, iba-ibang skills para maalagaan ang pamilya nila," he said.

La Union town credits zero maternal mortality to training for women 2
Mayor Velasco holds a family planning outreach in San Gabriel in June 2018. Photo courtesy of San Gabriel Tourism FB page

The local government also hired a jeepney to help transport pregnant women to and from hospitals.

Patients are more likely to seek treatment when the government shoulders laboratory fees and even snacks during their trip to the health centers, Velasco said.

La Union town credits zero maternal mortality to training for women 3
A blood donation activity in The municipality has earmarked about a quarter of its annual budget, or about P1 million, to healthcare. Photo courtesy of San Gabriel Tourism FB page

"We have to invest in the health of the poor," the mayor said.

"'Yung galing sa tao na problems, 'yun dapat yung inaaddress natin," he said.

Velasco won a fresh term as mayor of San Gabriel in the May 13 midterm elections. 

The Philippines recorded 114 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2017, according to a study conducted by the Asian Development Bank.

Last year, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the "Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act," which seeks to provide health and nutrition services to mothers and children during the first 1,000 days of life, after the United Nations sought to reduce the global mortality rate to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030.