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Pregnant Women like Desiree Benefit from Free Maternal Health Services

Desiree (seated 2nd on the right side) waits for her turn to register for client profiling, and free ultrasound and other health services (Photo: TdelaCruz/RTI).

Twenty-five year-old Desiree originally hails from Negros Oriental but moved to Valenzuela City, Metro Manila in search of good fortune.  She had her first child at the age of 17.  She is now on her third pregnancy.  When asked if she is going to have another child, Desiree quipped: “Ayoko na po. Mahirap ang maraming anak kasi mahirap ang buhay. Magpapa-ligate na po ako pagkapanganak ko.”  (Not anymore. It is hard to have many kids because life is difficult. I’m going to have ligation after giving birth).   She has also decided to give birth at the City’s Lying-in Clinic. 

The City Health Office of Valenzuela, in partnership with USAID and other stakeholders, will help ensure Desiree’s third pregnancy will be safe. Valenzuela City receives technical assistance from USAID, through its LuzonHealth Project, in the implementation of high-impact interventions to reduce maternal deaths and increase family planning use among the 77, 400 women of reproductive age residing in the City.

Desiree is one of the 300 or so pregnant women who responded to the call of the Valenzuela City Health Office to gather for a Buntis (pregnant woman) Congress to learn more about the importance of seeking pre-natal care to ensure not only their health and safety but also that of their unborn child. The gathering was organized with assistance from USAID’s LuzonHealth Project in support of the Department of Health’s High Five Critical Interventions which include maternal care. Unlike the City’s past Buntis Congresses which focused solely on information dissemination through lectures and information materials, the pregnant women this time also received free services that included ultrasound, blood typing, and syphilis/HIV testing. 

They also got to view Bigkis (Bond), a short film produced by the City Health Office to help them realize the value of pre-natal visits, birth spacing, facility-based delivery, skilled birth attendance, and exclusive breastfeeding.  They also received coupons that entitle them to a newborn screening kit should they give birth in the City’s Lying-in Clinic.