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Setting standards to keep mothers and babies safe

Program of QC government and Unilab aims to reduce maternal and newborn mortality
/ 05:03 AM December 05, 2017

Dr. Ma. Lourdes Eleria, Dr. Verdades Pena Linga, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, Dr. Ramona Abarquez and Claire Papa

The maternal and neonatal health services in Quezon City may someday become the yardstick for quality care across the country.

The city just rolled out its online information exchange database to provide accessible maternal and neonatal health services in its effort to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG) on the health and well-being of its residents.

With Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista at its helm, together with the Quezon City Health Department and United Laboratories Inc. (Unilab), the city launched the Seal of Excellence (SoE) Plus program as part of its continuing efforts to innovate its health services. The SoE sets the standards for all private lying-in clinics across the city to reduce the maternal mortality rate.

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OB gynecologists and midwives take care of the patients in Safe Birth Lying-in Clinics. It is also PhilHealth-accredited, thus pregnant women who have had deliveries in Safe Birth are covered by the no-balance billing scheme.

The UNSDG stipulates that the global maternal mortality ratio should be reduced to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030.

“We want to involve the private sector in the governance side of city government,” Bautista said. He added that it is also among his goals to reduce the incidence of childbirth at home by up to 40 percent. At present, there’s a city ordinance prohibiting traditional birth attendants from delivering babies and requiring all professional health practitioners to deliver babies only in health facilities.

Women should give birth in a health facility to improve maternal health outcomes and reduce maternal and newborn mortality. What the SoE Plus means is allowing SoE-awarded lying-in clinics to synchronize via internet their postpartum and newborn profiles, and recognizing private lying-in clinics that comply with the Maternal Newborn Child Health and Nutrition (MNCHN) indicators.

MNCHN addresses the risks that continuously threaten the lives of underprivileged Filipino women of reproductive age and their children. It emphasizes the importance of employing committed skilled health professionals and improves access and utilization of quality health interventions.

Safe Birth Lying-in Clinic has been a consistent Seal of Excellence awardee. It has four branches in Quezon City.

At present, 44 out of 83 private lying-in clinics were recognized SoE awardees for being fully compliant with the standards set by the DOH, PhilHealth, and the city’s local permit issuances. That is up by 53 percent compared to last year’s mere 23-percent SoE awardees.

The SoE was launched last year. Since then, midwife supervisors and sanitary inspectors have monitored and evaluated twice a year a total of 99 private lying-in clinics.

Clinics that continually fail to comply will be forced to shut down, Bautista said.

Real-time quality service

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With the launch of the SoE Plus program, maternal and neonatal health services in Quezon City are now online, providing real-time quality service and eliminating delays in accessing maternal and newborn health services, including delays in vaccination of infants.

“This innovation shall make available all necessary quality, safe and free services for both the mother and the newborn as part of their continuum of care from the private lying-in clinic to their respective health center,” said Dr. Verdades Peña Linga, City Health Officer III.

A private lying-in center awarded the Seal of Excellence must have adequate facilities and trained healthcare workers to respond sufficiently to the needs of pregnant women.

The SoE Plus program also requires private lying-in clinics to submit the medical records of mothers and their infants to the city health centers to ensure the data collected is encoded in an especially designed app. This will make it easier for the health center to locate and visit the mother and infant and encourage them to continue with the necessary health services, said Dr. Ramona Abarquez, Quezon City MNCHN coordinator.

“Maternal and child mortality remain a big concern,” said Claire Papa, External Affairs and Social Partnerships head for Unilab. Unilab has been working closely with the Quezon City Health Department for almost 10 years now. “Running a private lying-in clinic is a critical responsibility… It must be able to fully comply with national and local government standards.”

Visit www.soematernal.quezoncity.gov.ph.

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TAGS: babies, Health, Health and wellness, Health Services
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