Saturday, August 16, 2014

9 Months Later: Women's Health After Haiyan

GTMF Deputy Executive Director Nic Torres and Plan International - Philippines Country Director
Catharina van der Hor present their signed agreement together with program officers from the two foundations. 
On Wednesday last week, GT-Metro Foundation (GTMF) formalized its partnership with Plan International - Philippines to build health stations with birthing facilities in three of Typhoon Haiyan's (Yolanda) hardest-hit areas -- Palo, Leyte; and Mercedes and Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

To quote GTMF's news release on Rappler:
GTMF Deputy Executive Director Nicanor L. Torres, Jr. considered the undertaking as Metrobank Group’s contribution to restoring access to health services, especially to pregnant mothers and their newborn babies. 
The World Health Organization estimated that some 220,000 pregnant mothers will give birth within the year and about 70,000 newborn babies are in need of care in Yolanda-affected areas. 
“As a foundation that is primarily into implementing health programs for disadvantaged communities, we see how a lack in working health facilities may reverse the gains that have been achieved in curbing maternal and infant mortalities in challenging areas,” said Mr. Torres. 
Each health station will be fully equipped to meet the basic health needs of up to 900 families residing in three to six adjacent barangays and cater to about 10-15 births per month.

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The damage caused by Haiyan in many of the country's health facilities has put around 3.7 million women of reproductive ages at risk, and 150 out of the 1,000 estimated births per day to experience life-threatening complications, per UNFPA reports.

To begin with, the Philippines has to exert serious efforts to meet its 52 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births Millennium Development Goal 5 target by next year after figures have jumped from 162 in 2006 to 221 in 2011. (No woman should die from giving birth in the first place!)

Eastern Samar has the highest recorded maternal deaths among all provinces in the country since 2007. Whatever gains it may have achieved in reducing its maternal mortality rate face risks of being reversed because of the severe health infrastructure damages caused by Haiyan. Additionally, Haiyan's effects on livelihood, which is said to bring more people below the poverty line, will have an indirect impact on women's ability to access health services.

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In the Yolanda Rehabilitation and Recovery Efforts report as of July 28, 2014 of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR), private sector participation in health rehabilitation comprise of 67 pledges to build health units and 237 for repair.

OPARR defined private sector to consist of private corporations and their foundations, people and community organizations, as well as local and international non-government organizations where GTMF and Plan fall under.