The local government unit of San Jose recently conducted a Municipal Health Summit at the San Jose Sports Complex. The two-day summit held last December 1-2, 2014 was participated in by about 500 delegates composed of the Barangay Captains, Barangay Councilors under the Barangay Committee on Health, and the Barangay Health Workers (BHW).
The speakers of the summit were the nurses assigned at the San Jose Rural Health Unit-Main Health Center by the Department of Health Region 5 Office under its Nurses Deployment Project. Mr. Kristoffer Dan A. Verdejo spoke about the Introduction of Maternal and Child Health; Miss Cathy P. Pacamarra on Family Planning and the Reproductive Health Law (R.A. 10354); and Mr. Kenneth R. Caudilla on Status of Health and Accomplishment in the 29 Barangays of San Jose.
The most notable highlighted topics during the summit was the Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health Care more extensively discussed by Mayor Antonio B. Chavez during his part as the main speaker. He stressed to the participants the importance of ensuring the poorest to have access to quality health care. He elaborated that of the 41,928 current total population of the town, about 39.10% are included in the poverty incidences. Moreso that around 33% or a total of 13,836 residents are classified as indigents. He said that this is the focus of his administration when he institutionalized his FREE SERVICE PROGRAM and the eventual establishment of the San Jose Diagnostic Center that would practically lightened the burden of the poorest from the high cost of health care services.
Mayor Chavez noted that the basis for the focus of his health care program is the Article II, Section 15 of the 1987 Constitution. It provides that “The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instil health consciousness among them.” To pursue this, he introduced certain health reform areas in the municipality in terms of the following: Health Human Resource Development, Health Care Financing, Health Management Information System, and Access to Essential Medicines. He encouraged the barangay officials and their health workers to be partners of the municipal local government in undertaking reforms on the mentioned areas of concern.
He stressed that all barangays must formally established their own Barangay Local Health Board (BLHB) and conduct their own studies on health problems. He also reminded the Barangay Captains and the Chairmen and Barangay Council members of the Committee on Health who are automatic members of the local health board to annually appropriate five percent of their budget for health, conduct regular meetings, focus on sanitation plans and programs as well as on nutrition program.
On the municipal level, Mayor Chavez emphasized that the major health problems include low contraceptive prevalence rate, no municipal and barangay budget health utilization, no monthly reporting and monitoring of maternal and infant death, and lastly, no existing system for Barangay Health Workers Recruitment and Retention Mechanism. In view of the latter, he is now requesting formally the Sangguniang Bayan of San Jose in the presence of the Vice Mayor Evelio Pena and Municipal Councilors Domingo A. Tam, Julian Bausa, Raymund Pacamarra, Hassan Durante to approve the resolution that will regulate the recruitment and retention of Barangay Health Workers whose services are usually terminated when a new administration are taking over the management of the affairs in the barangay level. These are trained BHWs and the government has been spending a lot of money to upgrade their knowledge and skills in barangay health works, he further stressed.
On maternal and child health care, Mayor Chavez announced the implementation of OPLAN SAGIP BUNTIS in 2015 which primary aim is to secure and keep safe all pregnant women in the barangays and they will be provided a free OB kit. To emphasize his point, he said that if ever a pregnant woman or a newly-born child dies in the barangay, the blame will be shared on part of the barangay officials and the barangay health workers only if they failed to encourage these expectant mothers to see a midwife assigned at their barangays for a prenatal checkup at the very early stage of their pregnancy. He informed also the participants that the lying-in clinics that the municipal LGU has established will not accept pregnant women who do not undertake the required number of prenatal checkups because it would be detrimental to their safety in child labor and delivery. However, in any possible cases, between life or death scenarios, the municipal LGU has an ambulance available to immediately transport the patient to whichever hospital in Naga City. He further emphasized that only those who are legitimate residents of San Jose can avail of the free services.
Furthermore, he discussed also about the perinatal mortality rate in the Bicol Region of newly-born babies which emphasized deaths inside the womb or within the first seven days of life. He said that the incidences of deaths had a record of about 26% in 2003, increased to 35% in 2008, and decreased to 25% in 2013. He attributed the decrease of these deaths to the increasing awareness of the barangay folks of the hazards in pregnancy. Now, according to the studies conducted by a non-government organization about the health-seeking behavior of the poor which emphasized the reason why expectant mothers refuse to deliver their babies in a health facility, Mayor Chavez said that 37.4% of expectant mothers thought that it is not necessary; 35.4% thought that it would cost them too much; and 29.2% thought that their place is too far and that there is no available transportation. These are the top three reasons which he would never wanted to happen in San Jose. He said that San Jose Diagnostic Center can provide free ultrasound scanning for all pregnant women. He mentioned other free services like blood chemistry examination, X-Ray, and electro-cardiographic examination (ECG).
During the course of his discussions of the many health issues, Mayor Chavez mentioned about his plan of conducting another summit by January 2015 that will probably highlight the formal operation of his OPLAN SAGIP BUNTIS and many other important educational health issues that will be tackled to further upgrade the knowledge and skills of the Barangay Officials and their Barangay Health Workers and further inform the participants about the thrust of LGU-San Jose on matters of health care services in 2015.
As the finale of his presentations, Mayor Chavez showed a 2-minute video that showcased the milestone of his FREE SERVICE PROGRAM on health care and the 5-minute video depicting the life and death of a poor child named “Rosario” and it was followed by an open forum and the formal closing of the summit.