USAID lauds I. Norte’s maternal and child care program, plans to adapt approach

With their commitment to confront global health challenges, officials of the United States Agency for International Development Aid (USAID) found interest on the approach of the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) to reduce infant and maternal mortality rates.

According to Dr. Lewelyn Santos, chief of Governor Roque B. Ablan Sr. Memorial Hospital (GRBASMH), a group of USAID-Philippines officials headed by Victor E. Agbayani expressed admiration about Ilocos Norte’s home-grown health care approach, particularly the Maternal, Newborn, Child Health and Nutrition (MNCHN) Program of the Provincial Health Office (PHO). This is despite the fact that the province is not receiving any funding from the said agency.

“They [USAID officials] are planning to visit Ilocos Norte and evaluate our maternal and child mortality reduction program, especially after seeing that our statistical indicators for maternal and infant mortality are low,” Santos said.

He also added that the agency wants to turn the said health program into a “model” and implement the same approach to the provinces it financially assists.
“When they [USAID officials] asked me about how the province attained such improvement, I said it’s all about the governance,” Santos remarked.

Spearheaded by Gov. Imee Marcos, the MNCHN Program is a series of undertakings to address child and maternal care issues in Ilocos Norte. It includes the training of health care providers, conducting of medical missions, provision of food supplements, vaccines, and medicines to the indigents, educating of mothers about antenatal and neonatal care, and accomplishing of infrastructure projects such as the rehabilitation of Rural Health Units (RHUs) and the inception of Mothering Centers which give 24-hour services including immediate response to medical emergencies.

These conscientious efforts are to ensure the progress of Ilocos Norte on its Millennium Development, particularly the attainment of Goals 4 and 5 which is to “reduce child mortality and improve maternal health” by 2015.

USAID is the United States federal government agency primarily administering civilian foreign aid.—Grazielle Mae Sales, PGIN-CMO