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Int’l group, gov’t collaborate to address maternal health

By Connie Calipay

The Merck in the United States of America and Canada (MSD) and Jhpiego, an international non-profit health organization based in the Philippines, are working together for a program that is dedicated to reducing maternal mortality in Sorsogon province.

Dr. Ingrid Magnata, Jhpiego’s country program manager, in a virtual media dialogue on Tuesday, Mar. 30, said the MSD program is a big step forward to address the barriers as serious about saving the mothers.

“We partner with governments, health experts, and local communities to build the skills and systems that guarantee a healthier future for women and families,” Magnata said.

She also added that in collaboration with the national and local government, the program aims to enhance maternity care in 18 public and private health facilities in one district in Sorsogon, while also establishing an effective referral network to increase timely response to obstetric emergencies.

“We must improve efficiency and effective referral systems to ensure that women can reach that emergency care,” she added.

Magnata said Sorsogon province was chosen by their group because it “ is one of the two Universal Health Care (UHC) integration site and the commitment to strengthening the provincial health system through having a functional health network and center of excellent facilities and to serve as the model for other districts and provinces.”

She also added that the action plan involves operationalizing quality systems and nurturing a culture of respect in health facilities, strengthening data-recording and emergency responses, establishing increased coverage of evidence-based interventions, and building local government capacity within the referral network.

Dr. Rita Ang-Bon, Department of Health (DOH) Bicol family cluster head, said these kinds of programs are very important because service delivery specifically affects women as to mortality rate particularly in the midst of the pandemic.

“We’ve seen a breakdown in terms of the referral system, we’ve seen more mothers dying, we’ve seen mothers more significant morbidities because of poor access. So such projects we welcome these and we are looking forward to seeing how these projects will be able to help the local government units address the difficulty that are being experienced in the local level,” she said.

Ang-Bon said that the help of various stakeholders is important. “The lead to take care the health of our pregnant women, our mothers are not only in the hands of the local health authorities it has to be a whole society approach and with these programs with Jhpiego and MSD is a very welcome change.”

“We at MSD take a holistic approach to address the many factors that impact maternal health and strive to leverage the private sector for the public good, hence we are very proud of the Philippines’ inclusion once again in our MSD for Mothers program as it also comes at a critical juncture when Filipina mothers’ challenges are compounded by the limitations and threats presented by the pandemic,” Dr. Beaver Tamesis, president and managing director of MSD in the Philippines said.

He also said that the project MSD for Mothers will focus on maternal health care improvement efforts in Sorsogon, the fourth most populous province in Bicol, within the duration of three years.

“We are optimistic that the MSD for Mothers Global Grants program will further help the Philippines accelerate its progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) by improving population health outcomes and increasing access to improved maternal health care. More so, we hope that through this partnership, we reinforce our commitment and support to the country’s move towards Universal Health Care (UHC),” he added.

“Working with governments, patient groups, professional associations, entrepreneurs, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations like Jhpiego, we hope to empower women, equip health providers and strengthen health systems in our collective effort to potentially transform our world – when a woman survives, her children, family, community and nation thrive for generations,” he added.

Tamesis added that they want to reaffirm the commitment to improving and increasing access towards quality health care program and to continue to show commitment to ensure woman have access to the most important power of means to end maternity deaths such as quality maternity care and availability of family planning options.


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