June 7, 2022
BATANGAS, PHILIPPINES — As the country adjusts to the new normal, a study by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI) revealed that the pandemic disrupted family planning and maternal and newborn health services in the Philippines and globally, straining already stretched out government healthcare workers.
In its commitment to championing women’s health and safety, Bayer Philippines Inc. launched the “Mama & Baby Care: The First 1,000 Days” project, an initiative that formally trains at least 100 Barangay Health Workers (BHW) with the fundamental modules needed for maternity and infant care.
The First 1,000 Days
Supported by Bayer, a global life sciences company, Bayer Philippines Managing Director Angel-Michael Evangelista remarks Bayer is committed to helping BHWs care for mothers and newborn children.
“At Bayer we support ‘health for all, hunger for none’, and with this project, healthcare workers are equipped with the knowledge to support both mother and child during that critical stage of development and help set the foundation for good health early on in life,” said Evangelista.
The training modules, developed by HFI, give prominence to practical information on properly and safely caring for pregnant women and their babies during the first 1,000 days from conception.
From the formational pregnancy period when the fetus grows and develops inside the womb for 270 days, until the infant’s first 730 days after birth, the program highlights the support and care health workers can provide.
“Mama & Baby Care” also puts special emphasis on training healthcare workers in the local barangays to offer ready support for mothers closer to home, lessening the need for pregnant women to spend hours in transit just to make it to their regular check-ups in nearby cities.
By empowering BHWs with trainings on maternal and infant care, local governments provide access to safe motherhood in areas where such services are not available.
“Working with Bayer Philippines, the program fills in the need for maternal and infant healthcare in the local setting, hence the strategic move to focus on barangay health workers. Currently, there are very few programs targeted specifically on the first 1,000 days from the baby’s conception, which our two teams saw as a crucial gap that needed to be addressed. We hope to champion healthy infancy and toddlerhood by starting from the formative days of safe motherhood,” shares HFI Chair Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan.
Tuy Municipal Health Officer Dr. Pilar Adrias, also comments, “Pregnancy and the early stages of motherhood are no doubt challenging, but with an efficient and capable support system around them, we hope to lighten the burden of new mothers across the Philippines.”
Already before COVID-19, the Philippines saw about 2,600 women dying every year due to complications from pregnancy or childbirth. The maternal mortality cases in 2020 can increase to up to 670 additional deaths from the 2019 level (26 % increase).
At a community event on May 30, 2022, “Mama & Baby Care” stakeholders officially marked the beginning of the project.
The event was attended by representatives from Bayer Philippines, partner organization Health Futures Foundation Inc. (HFI) Chair Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, and spokespersons from the local municipality of Tuy and its community of healthcare workers– Tuy Municipality Health Officer Dr. Pilar Adrias, Tuy BHW President Nancy C. Delfinado, and Tuy ABC President Adrian Perez.
UNFPA Philippines | Significant rise in maternal deaths and unintended pregnancies feared because of COVID-19, UNFPA and UPPI study shows – https://philippines.unfpa.org/en/news/significant-rise-maternal-