DOH gains important ally in its campaign for safer births

MANILA, Aug. 9 — The Department of Health (DOH) said its efforts toward promoting safer births gained a supporting ally through the launching on Tuesday of a parenting “mobile app” at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.

DOH assistant secretary and spokesperson Dr. Eric Tayag said they are happy with the development of the “app” under the consortium dubbed as “Path to Life” and spearheaded by FWD Life Philippines in partnership with the DOH and the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH).

The “mobile app,” dubbed as “Ready to Parent,” is designed as a companion for first time expectant parents.

Dr. Tayag said the app can help a lot in their continuing campaign in promoting safer births for mothers and their babies in the country.

“Safer births begin with every parent, and technology can be used to supplement consultations with doctors and visits to their community health centers,” he said.

He added that parents who will be using the mobile app can also help build a more well-informed community of expectant mothers by sharing the information they access online.

The app is downloadable through Apple App Store or Google Play. It will serve as one of the channels wherein first time parents can share their journey to parenthood.

The app aims to create a community that actively helps first-time parents prepare for the wide range of health and financial risks tied to pregnancy.

It was perceived to be a contribution to the promotion of safer pregnancy developed by FWD Life Philippines.

FWD Life, one of the country’s fastest-growing insurance companies, led the consortium in advocating empowered parenthood for Filipino families.

FWD launched its commercial operations in the country in September 2014.

The app is also a venue to exchange useful tips through chats that will be moderated by experienced mothers.

“First-time parents, most especially, need to have access to or can communicate with third parties that can provide them with correct information, which will lessen their anxiety and improve their disposition about pregnancy,” the DOH spokesperson said.

Dr. Tayag said that while the DOH for the past several years has been doing its part in reducing the rate of maternal and infant deaths, he admitted that much still needs to be done.

About 114 maternal deaths in every 100,000 births were recorded in 2015.

He said that it was important that organizations from both the government and private sectors must actively work together to build a dedicated community that would advocate on the issue of safer births.

Alexander Sarmiento, digital channel head of FWD Insurance, said the app was designed for local Filipino communities and the language was predominantly in English at the moment. He said they are exploring other ways to make it more accessible as they expect to receive more feedback from users.

“It will evolve and will give better experience to users later,” Sarmineto said.

Roche Vandenberghe, also from FWD Insurance, said there are at least three functions in the app — chat, information, and journal.

“We expect people to share information, moms to share what they actually experience. We are not saying we’re doctors. It’s a sharing of info by fellow moms. In terms of accuracy, we have several sources… We also create our own content to ensure that whatever we put in there will resonate to Filipinos,” Vandenberghe said.

Also present in the launching activity was obstetrics and gynecology expert Dr. Blanca de Guia who shared that the app will benefit expectant mothers by becoming ready for the risks that come with this life-changing journey.

She said that the app would also lead to exchanging of informative tips in achieving safe birth wherein one mother can share with others the importance of seeking pre- and post-natal check-ups and in ensuring that laboratory exams are completed as part of monitoring conditions of the mother during pregnancy.

Based on assessment of the DOH, there are at least three factors that can be tied to the obstacles concerning maternal health in the country.

These are delay in reaching appropriate channels, delay in providing proper maternal health tools, and delay in seeking medical help.

As the DOH addresses these through appropriate interventions, the partnership is expected to help in attaining the goal of reducing maternal deaths and infant deaths.

According to the DOH, there was no significant decrease in the number of mothers dying due to pregnancy related problems since 2013 which they are trying to address at present through closer intervention with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and local government units.

By Leilani S. Junio, Philippines News Agency

News Source: Manila Bulletin