Healthy Start: Birthing Centers Meet Early Needs of Children
“I feel at home and safe,” says Elisa, a woman who gave birth to a healthy 7-pound baby girl at the Kabukludan Birthing Center in the Philippines in 2008.
Since ChildFund International opened six birthing centers in the Philippine Camarines Sur Province (in September 2008), providing access to high quality health care facilities, dozens of women have given birth to healthy newborns.
“We want to emphasize the importance of brining pregnant women to health care facilities, which is key in preventing maternal and newborn mortality,” said Dr. Sadia Parveen, ChildFund’s reproductive health specialist.
Elisa was the first resident to give birth in one of the new facilities.
“The health attendant and the midwife took good care of me before and after delivery,” Elisa said. “I will recommend this center to my relatives.”
ChildFund Philippines, partnering with Mt. Zion Family Development Association-Christ the King Center, initiated the project “Saving Women’s Lives through Improved Maternal Care.” The project aims to reduce the vulnerability of women to risks related with pregnancy; provide women access to safe maternal and newborn care; and improve community health.
“The centers are designed to provide comprehensive primary health care to address the needs of pregnant women, and also those of women and children in general,” said Parveen.
This approach takes comprehensive primary health care to the community level, and bridges the gap between public health and infrastructure and the communities.
“A primary objective of this project is to build sustainable health care partnerships with provincial and municipal health offices, local government units and the communities,” said Parveen.
The facilities offer patients access to trained health care workers. More than a dozen midwives and nurses received pre- and post-natal obstetric and pediatric core training. Midwives, rural health nurses and volunteer nurses also attended a training workshop on community-managed maternal and newborn care. Five village pharmacies provide medicine to mothers and newborns if needed.
“Assisted delivery by skilled and trained personnel is associated with lower levels of illness and infant mortality,” said Parveen.
ChildFund believes that what happens in the first years of life is the cornerstone upon which the child grows and develops. These new birthing centers are critical to ChildFund’s goal of having healthy and secure infants in its programs.