I’ve come upon a piece of news while reading the local paper the other day. While flipping through the pages of the Leyte Samar Daily express, on page three of its July 2, 2012 issue I chanced upon an article written by Ronald O. Reyes entitled “Health Pregnancy is ‘everybody’s business’ in Limasawa Island”. Reading it aroused my interest as it concerned what a local government unit was doing in order to help women in their pregnancy, something that wasn’t solely the initiative of the municipal government, but it was an endeavor that involved the whole community as well. Curiously, as I was looking for the e-version of this article in the local daily’s website, poring over its archives and using its search engine, I couldn’t find the article, as if it wasn’t part of the news. But anyway, good thing that I have the printed copy of the issue right in front of me as I write.
True, being pregnant triggers many personal and financial “inconveniences”. This observation by Reyes is true everywhere, but in the island town of Limasawa, Southern Leyte, expectant mothers, their husbands and the entire community have all chipped in to ensure that the financial care of these expectant mothers hand their families would be provided for through maternal healthcare initiatives. This kind of attention spans from conception to delivery, and even the proper rearing of the newborn.
One such initiative is the “Buntis Baby Bank”, which consists in encouraging people to give to individual coin banks, the collective money from which would be used to aid in the financial costs of delivering the newborn into the world. People have been encouraged to give to these collections, and the expectant mothers themselves give to these banks, which are being maintained in the rural health unit and in the barangay health stations. By these, money is being saved in preparation for the eventual birth of the child. The difference here is that it’s not only the mother who saves for herself; she is also able to save for others who are expecting as well. Furthermore, other members of the community also have their chance to give their help. This collection provides a common fund for the expectant mothers in the barangays, which could average more or less five pregnant women a year, according to the article.
Other initiatives include an operational support group, which tends to supplement the milk given by mothers to their infants. Also, a barangay feeding group has been created, with the primary purpose of monitoring both mother and child if the follow the law (sic) that breastfeeding may be done from 0-6 months from the birth of the child. Even the fathers have their place within the program. These are also oriented and educated on what to do when their wives are expecting and when they have children already.
The aid of these programs are also extended to teen pregnancies, whenever there are cases: young expectant mothers are also covered in the aid given by the local government.
These are just some of the health practices that are being done in this municipality in Southern Leyte. These are largely educational aimed at orienting and forming people; not much emphasis is placed on doled-put goods. What I like most and that I find ideal here is the fact that people are all the while being formed to think and act for themselves, in a way that is respectful of life from all sides., and furthermore seeks to engage the whole community. It doesn’t capitalize on the fact that people are poor. This shows that the poor are capable of helping themselves, without the benefit of legislation and foreign aid. The efforts of the local authorities of this municipality are praiseworthy; it doesn’t surprise me that it has been receiving commendations in the past.
As a realistic take on this, of course we can’t expect this initiative to answer for all the needs of the pregnant woman. However, this may provide a substantial aid. If I would be asked, I think it’s important that people, including the poor, need to learn how to stand on their own feet, provide for their own needs with dignity and through respectable labor. People shouldn’t live merely on doled-out goods, something which I think people are expecting with the passage of the controversial bill.
This brings me back to consider the RH bill. Laws like this are not necessary. They could just be excuses that could justify and cover up our ineptitude concerning things that we could actually do without the help of legislation. You don’t need to pass a law in congress just so that you could help pregnant women go through the oftentimes difficult and complicated term of pregnancy. Initiatives like these prove it. Of course laws and ordinances protect and serve to ensure the operation of many a good initiative, but these more oftentimes serve as fodder for corruption, in many levels of government.