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PhilHealth scales up efforts to protect mothers June 25, 2012

"More than ever, there is now a greater sense of urgency to strengthen our efforts towards protecting our mothers," said Dr. Eduardo P. Banzon, President and CEO of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) in response to the 2011 Family Health Survey on maternal deaths released recently by the National Statistics Office (NSO).

Maternal deaths during pregnancy or delivery are primarily due to delays in seeking medical care, in reaching appropriate care or in receiving care at health facilities. To address these delays, PhilHealth started providing coverage for facility-based deliveries since 2003 through its Normal Spontaneous Delivery (NSD) Package for accredited government and private hospitals and Maternity Care Package (MCP) for non-hospital facilities. Over the years, the package has expanded from covering only the first normal delivery at P4,500 to four deliveries at P8,000. It also ensures that the whole spectrum of care – from prenatal to postnatal – is delivered. Combined with the No Balance Billing or "Walang Dagdag Bayad" policy for all member types, mothers need not worry about expenses they would incur when delivering in PhilHealth-accredited non-hospital facilities and government hospitals.

"The package is there, but there remains to be significant barriers to access to this package. This is precisely why we launched the 1MOM (1Municipality, One MCP Provider) Campaign" mentioned Banzon. The 1MOM Campaign promotes access by proactively ensuring that there is at least one PhilHealth-accredited provider in each municipality. "Accreditation is critical, as it not only improves quality of care through implementation of standards, but also assures a steady inflow of resources to the facility. This money can be used to enhance the facility's infrastructure, procure more supplies and equipment, and provide incentives to the staff, thereby capacitating them to provide better care to mothers," he added.

"From 198 accredited facilities in 2007, the number has increased to 998 as of March 2012," reported Dr.Narisa J. Sugay, head of PhilHealth Accreditation Department and MDG Benefits Team. "Despite the increase in number, our assessment of distribution has revealed that only 607 out of 1,646 municipalities and cities has at least one accredited MCP provider. Clearly, much still needs to be done. But we are very much willing to streamline processes and provide necessary support to get more providers on-board," she elaborated further.

But PhilHealth cannot do this alone. "The 1MOM Campaign is a call to action for players within and outside the health sector. If you believe that it's unacceptable that our mothers are dying, join us in this campaign. There are many opportunities for you to contribute," urged Banzon.

Among the areas of collaboration that the campaign offers are developing management skills of frontline providers including midwives; generating resources for health facility enhancement to improve delivery of basic and comprehensive emergency care;and designing creative information, education, and communication programs for mothers, Banzon said. He mentioned that it is also important to ensure that mothers are enrolled in the National Health Insurance Program to make them eligible for the package. (END)

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