Today is: Tue, May 21, 2013
Midwife Changes the Standard
A heart for improving birthing conditions for mother and infant.
In the province of Bohol, Philippines, a weary mother watched as a midwife approached the rickety hospital bed where she sat. Her newborn lay feverish in a small corner at the edge of the bed beside two other newborns and their mothers; one infant possibly with a rising infection. This was typical in government-owned hospitals, but for Corazon ‘Azon’ Paras, the attending midwife, it was not fair that mothers and their infants should be in this plight.
Having been born to a poor family herself, Azon knew the frustration of not being able to afford quality healthcare. Upon becoming a registered midwife, she began her career caring for the poorest of communities in Bohol. At the government hospital, Azon worked within the limits of the public health system. Congestion was one of the pressing challenges. In 2003, Bohol’s bed-to-population ratio was one hospital bed for every 1,000 people.
When Azon was elected president of the Integrated Midwives Association of the Philippines (IMAP) – Bohol Chapter, affordable quality health care became the association’s mantra. In 2003, Azon and 15 fellow midwives set up the IMAP Lying-in Clinic Inc. (ILCI), the first private lying-in birthing clinic in the province. It drew mothers from low-income families and averaged 40-60 deliveries a month.
The venture had to deal with financial constraints. Angela Rances, one of the midwives related, “The fees we received were just enough to pay the electricity, water, and basic supplies. It took almost a year before we had our salaries. But Azon was undaunted. She prodded us to go on.”
The commitment showed by Azon and her partners eventually paid off. She underwent training in business enhancement support organized by USAID and leadership skills organized by IMAP.
With USAID support, Azon mentored 224 midwives to operate their own birthing clinics. She also encouraged all ILCI clinics to qualify for accreditation with the Philippines’ health insurance that entailed linkages with back-up doctors to protect mothers’ lives in case of birth complications.
The success of the first ILCI spurred the interest of some 200 member-midwives of IMAP-Bohol. Since 2009, 11 more lying-in clinics were established to attend to the needs of mothers. In 2011, three more ILCI clinics were established in Bohol. From 2007-2011, the birthing clinics attended to about 6,000 deliveries. By March 2012, ILCI branched out and established seven clinics in nearby Negros Oriental province.
Today, quality health care has become more accessible and affordable for the Boholanos. Jondee Galiposo, 35, who hails from a town 100 kilometers away from the regional hospital, delivered her second child at one of the ILCI clinics upon the suggestion of a neighbor. “I like it better here. My neighbor was right to tell me about this place. It is very nice and affordable. I am happy with the way you (Azon) helped me give birth and take care of me and my baby.” With this, it can be said that Azon’s heart has reached its home – that of the hearts of mothers and their families.
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- Integrated Maternal, Neonatal, Child Health and Nutrition/Family Planning Regional Project in Visayas (VisayasHealth)
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- Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) Philippines
- Building Actors and Leaders for Advancing Community Excellence in Development (BALANCED) Project
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