Cong Villar's bill to bolster maternal, newborn care in PH

A ranking congresswoman is batting for a measure that would improve  the delivery of maternal and newborn care in the country.


Authored by House Deputy Speaker and Las Piñas City lone district Rep. Camille Villar, House Bill (HB) No.5684 also seeks to provide maximum safeguards to Filipino mothers at the time of their childbirths.

Titled, "An Act Safeguarding the Health of Filipino Mothers at the Time of Their Childbirth",  the measure also aims to reduce maternal deaths by providing birthing facilities for every barangay in the country.

“It is only imperative that the government give priority to pregnant mothers and their newborn, especially the underprivileged women, to help reduce their risk and somewhat ease the difficulty of their childbirth,” said Villar, who is a mother of two.

While the reduction of maternal deaths forms part of the sustainable development goals, available data shows that the number of women dying from childbirth is actually on the rise.

Records from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)"showed that maternal deaths increased to 1,616 in 2018, from 1,484 in 2017.

Region IV-A or those provinces grouping Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon recorded the highest number of maternal deaths with 245 cases, or a 10.36 percent increase from 222 cases in 2017.

Region VII or Central Visayas (Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor provinces) registered 230 maternal deaths, while Metro Manila had 195 deaths for the same period.

“We have an important duty to protect the lives of mothers and the unborn and we seek to provide comprehensive childbirth services to them to address maternal or neonatal problems,” said Villar.

The bill would require local government units (LGUs) to upgrade and improve their health services and medical facilities in a bid to provide adequate and quality emergency obstetric care. Likewise, local health clinics, health offices and satellite offices of the Department of Health (DOH) are mandated to provide 24-hour assistance to Filipino mothers.

The legislation would further provide authorization to LGUs to formulate programs that would promote the increase in salaries and incentives of health workers.

The DOH, in coordination with the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) and other relevant organizations, are directed to further professionalize the practice of midwifery and empower them to be key healthcare professionals in providing care to mothers and newborns.