Feature: Keeping children and mothers healthy in the community
By Jesseshan Banayo Marbella
Emily appreciates the presence of the clinic located in the mountainous terrain of the southern district of Legazpi City.
Emily gave birth in Banquerohan Maternity Lying-in Clinic, a health facility funded by the government of Spain through a Poder y Prosperidad de la Comunidad (PODER), a project under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
“Mapagal talaga kung mababa pa kami pasentro lalo na pag may emergency. Mas madali na digdi ta pwede na lang ngani lakawon tapos may tigtatao pang libreng bulong (It was very difficult for us to have to go to the [Legazpi] city, especially during emergencies. It is easier now; you can even just walk to the clinic. Plus, they provide free medicines),” Emily said.
Since the lying-in clinic was established in May 15, 2009, Emily regularly visits it because she knows how important her children’s health are.
“Digdi na man ako nangaki kang pangtulo kong aki tapos digdi na man nagpapa-check-up ang mga aki ko (I also delivered my third child here, and I bring them here for checkups),” Emily added.
Emily also shared that she went to a “hilot” when she gave birth to her first child, while she delivered her second child with the help of a midwife from the nearby barangay.
Emily is only one of the women who has benefited from the maternity package provided by the Banquerohan Maternity Lying-in Clinic, which includes prenatal services, delivery services, and postnatal services.
The clinic also offers newborn care, newborn screening, immunization, and medical consultations, all of which Emily has availed of for free.
“Immediately after she has given birth, we immediately referred her to our population officer, where she received proper health examination and counsel about natural family planning and birth spacing. We encourage mothers who had several children to undergo the same process,” Dr. Fulbert Gillego, Legazpi City health officer, said.
The health facility has been accredited by PhilHealth since August 2011, allowing Emily to get free access to all its delivery services. She saved P2,500, the same amount she paid to the midwife for her second delivery, allowing her to use for the money for medicines for her baby instead.
The Baquerohan Maternity Lying-In Clinic caters to 12 southern barangays of Legazpi City. The facility operates 24 hours a day and is staffed with licensed and skilled midwives and supervised by nurses and on-call doctors.
“We hired contractual nurses and midwives to provide 24-hour clinic services as part of their committed work in the community,” Dr. Gillego said.
The number of deliveries increases each year. For 2012, deliveries reached 189 in August. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, the recorded deliveries respectively reached 81, 121, and 181. With the Poder project in Banquerohan, the people get an easy access to the health services they need especially to maternal and newborn care, Dr. Gillego said.
“For both maternal care and newborn services, the health facility funded by Poder has definitely improved the access of the people to health services. We are looking forward to another phase of the project to build it into a community hospital someday,” Dr. Gillego added.
The local government unit has infused a lot of innovations in the original Poder project. As a result, it is now growing beyond structures to bring better services to communities.
After Typhoon Reming in 2006, the people of Banquerohan clamored for the construction of a better clinic since it was damaged by a typhoon. Even before the typhoon hit, the clinic already lacked equipment and barely had enough space to accommodate several patients at once, said Dr. Gillego. As such, the villagers proposed the construction of a maternal lying-in clinic to provide health care for children and pregnant women.
The city health budget includes allocation for the wages of staff, supplies, drugs and medicines needed. The fees collected by the clinic is used for maintenance.
Adjacent to the lying-in clinic is the Banquerohan Early Intervention and Rehabilitation Clinic, a Poder project for children with special needs. Services include early intervention, mobility training, speech therapy, physical rehabilitation services, and provision of medications.
Corazon, a housewife, discovered that her son Leonard Lloyd Bartolo cannot walk when he was nine months old, and she brought Leonard to the doctor. After running some tests, the physician explained to her that her son has developmental delay and needs physical therapy.
Through a referral from the city health office, Corazon was able to avail of free therapy for her son from the clinic. Since November 2011, Leonard has been regularly attending therapy sessions.
“Ngunyan, nakakatukaw na siyang solo, nakakatindog na man siya basta may kaputan. Dakolaon na tabang ta nagigibo ko digdi sa harong su tigaturo ninda ta mas dakol ang oras ko sa aki ko (He can walk now),” she said.
Corazon saved a lot because the services in the facility are free. She would have spent about P500 for each therapy session had they gone to a private hospital. She also receives complimentary milk and medicines for Leonard.
The Banquerohan Early Intervention and Rehabilitation Clinic is staffed by the city physical therapist and volunteer workers from Simon of Cyrene, an organization focused in community-based rehabilitation.
Dr. Gillego said the clinic has scheduled days for therapy sessions during the week, wherein mothers who have children with disabilities are taught simple practices they can do with their children at home to aid their therapy.
Through these health facility projects by the DSWD, mothers and children in poor communities are given access to health services they need. (MAL/JBMarberlla-DSWD5/PIA 5)