ORMOC CITY – A volunteer health worker from this city was named 2012 Outstanding Community Health Team (CHT) Member by the Department of Health (DOH), Japan International Cooperative Assistance (JICA), and the City Health Office (CHO) during the 1st CHT Conference in the country on November 29, 2012 held at Pongos Hotel, this city. Nerissa Lumanta of Brgy. San Pablo, this city, was teary-eyed as she delivered her message after receiving her plaque and gifts as most outstanding CHT member in the city. She received her award from DOH Assistant Secretary for Operations-Visayas Cluster Dr. Paulyn Jean Russel -Ubial, DOH-8 Regional Director Dr. Jaime Bernadas, JICA Philippines Section Chief Yukari Saito, and CHO chief Dr. Nelita Navales. In her speech, Lumanta thanked the sponsors for recognizing their efforts as CHT members in ensuring that all pregnant moms are healthy. She had been to different places, she stressed, just to bring government’s service to the door of every household. Dr. Ma. Lourdes Lampong of CHO said Lumanta was the only CHT member who bothered to inculcate in the minds of her clients pregnancy risks. Moreover, she would remind pregnant moms-clients through text message a day prior to their prenatal schedule, a personal innovation that earned her the award. She also got the highest approval rating from her punters, Lampong revealed. That day, 26 other CHT members from the five health districts of the city were also recognized for their hard work. From them, the top five awardees were named. They are Aileen dela Cruz, Gina Cabudlay, Nerissa Lumanta, Asuncion Quirante, and Carmelita Abaño. Asec. Ubial remarked that Eastern Visayas is now making history again in public health. She revealed that the CHT Conference is the first in the country. The conference was conceptualized long before after the CHT was mobilized but never did they plan to have it in region 8, particularly Ormoc, she divulged. To recall, Leyte province was put in the health map after former Leyte Governor, now Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla was cited for his Mother Bles Birthing Clinic concept. So successful was his framework that some local government units (LGUs) are learning from it and emulating the program. The CHT concept in EV is part of the Strengthening Maternal and Child Health Services in Eastern Visayas (SMACHS-EV) project of DOH, JICA, and LGU which started in July 2010. Aside from this region, JICA is also assisting the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) in a similar project. Ubial stressed that this project is consistent with their Kalusugang Pangkalahatan (universal health) campaign to support the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) of the United Nations (UN). Nevertheless, SMACHS-EV is more specific on reducing child and maternal mortality. “No woman should die in giving birth,” she underscored. With the initial result of the project, SMACHS-EV Japanese Consultant Satoko Ishiga confidently concluded that they “are on the right track”. She revealed that JICA is giving technical assistance to CHT members and even donated equipment to the city and other towns in the region. Ubial said she was happy with giving more focus on maternal and child care, an increase in facility-based deliveries has been noted. Nonetheless, she acknowledged that there are still areas that have to be looked into because despite the 98% mobilization of CHT members, “Leyte still has the highest infant/maternal mortality rate.” One of the contributing factors to this, she mentioned, is the high prevalence rate of pre-marital sex in the region, leading to teen pregnancies. Citing the Young Adult Fertility Survey (YAFS) result of the University of the Philippines (UP), she said it stated that EV has the highest statistics for young people less than 18 years old engaging in pre-marital sex, and most of the girls getting pregnant. This increases the risk of dying while delivering the baby, Ubial highlighted. With that, she recommended that the region works for a contraceptive awareness program to educate the youth. Yet, she emphasized that DOH will not impose the use of contraception. “It will still be their choice.” Since the project will end in 2014, Saito told EV Mail that they are now collating all data to identify certain measures to sustain the program after the project ends. “We want this program to continue so we will find ways to make it sustainable,” she underscored. Bernadas, furthermore, thanked the CHT members for their “unselfish contribution” in ensuring that every pregnant woman has access to quality health care services. SMACHS-EV is also implemented in other areas in the region. Ubial and Bernadas disclosed that priority towns were grouped into clusters for ease in program implementation.
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