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QC solon wants maternal care during and after pregnancy

Coinciding with the celebration of Women’s Month, Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas has filed twin measures which seek to provide maternal health care during pregnancy and childbirth.
Pending for approval in the House of Representatives are House Bill 1382 or an “Act Increasing the Maternity Leave Period to 100 days for Female Employees in Government Services and in the Private Sector, and Granting an Option to Extend for an Additional 30 Days Without Pay” and House Bill 1806 or “An Act Establishing a Pregnancy Support Services Office under the Department of Health (DoH).”
In filing these two bills, Vargas underscored the need to reduce maternal mortality and provide better health care for children, especially the newly born.
Citing various studies of the DoH and World Health Organization (WHO), the Philippines has a lifetime risk of maternal death of one in every 140 mothers.
Records show around 11 Filipino mothers die every day or an estimated of 4,500 mothers every year due to severe hemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, sepsis and problems related to obstructed labor and abortion.
In addition, the Philippines is among 68 countries which contribute to 97 percent of maternal, neonatal and child health deaths worldwide. About half of the deaths of Filipino children under five years old happen in the first 28 days of life.
Vargas has proposed increasing the maternity leave period from the regular 60 days to 100 days which gives more time for the mother to take care of her child and herself.
“We recognize and appreciate the sacrifices of women in giving birth and as a way to protect them, let’s give them more essential time to rest with proper health care,” Vargas said.
“Recent studies show that extending paid maternity leave for new mothers reduces infant mortality. The cause is yet to be known but it may be linked to longer periods of breastfeeding and better health care,” he added.
In support of the first measure, Vargas is also proposing the establishment of a Pregnancy Support Services to be initiated by the DoH.
Vargas, vice chairman of the House committee on appropriations, said the proposed offices will be tasked to encourage and assist pregnant women to carry their children to live birth by providing services during and after pregnancy.
This measure alleviates pregnant women and their families from the difficulties that may otherwise lead to abortion or death of a child during childbirth.
Under the bills, the DoH is mandated to develop and implement a public outreach campaign to provide information on pregnancy support services to vulnerable women, including those in low-income, urban and rural areas.
Vargas, a member of the PDP-Laban, is urging his colleagues to give importance to these two bills because in least developed countries like the Philippines, pregnancy is 300 times deadlier.
“Saving the lives of mothers and their newborns requires not just medical intervention but also education on how to improve maternal and child health care,” Vargas said. 

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