Improved health sector in ARMM
A report by Jamaleah L. Benito-Dimaporo
Information Officer II
Bureau of Public Information
The health situation in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has never been this good.
The ARMM used to be rated lowest in health standards, but things have taken a turn for the better, thanks to the reform initiatives introduced by the present administration led by its regional governor Mujiv S. Hataman.
“I am confident that the health situation in ARMM is on the right track,” said the region’s health secretary Dr. Kadil Sinolinding Jr.
Contributions made by health workers in the region and the support of autonomous regional government, are the factors that brought about the surprising performance, Sinolinding said.
Lower MMR, IMR
For many years, ARMM has the highest rate in cases of maternal and infant mortality.
In 2008, there were 245 mothers in the region who died during childbirth per 100,000 live births. Just last year, the maternal mortality rate (MMR) has significantly dropped to 66, even better than the national average of 152.
The infant mortality rate (IMR) or the number of deaths of infants under one year old per one thousand live births has likewise improved significantly. In 2008, the IMR was pegged at 55, but in 2013 it was down to only 16.
“The ARMM pioneered techniques which greatly reduced the IMR and MMR without the use of very sophisticated machines,” said Sinolinding.
He said that intensified interventions especially in the third stage of labor among pregnant woman, also known as Active Management of Third Stage Labor (AMTFL) and Essential Intra-partum Newborn Care (EINC) are the pioneer interventions employed by healthcare workers in the region which significantly reduced the MMR and IMR respectively.
AMTFL and EINC are vertically implemented from hospitals to barangay health stations.
“The data of DOH-ARMM is used nationwide for the said interventions,” Sinolinding said proudly.
Sinolinding, who took the reigns as DOH-ARMM chief in 2010, said the record low rates are the result of deployment of additional health personnel, rehabilitation and construction of health infrastructures, delivery of equipment and enhancement of skills through training.
Additional jobs in the government translate into more accomplishments and improvement in the delivery of basic social services.
In ARMM, there is an utmost need for community healthcare workers as thousands will benefit from the services they provide.
As an answer to this, additional healthcare workers were deployed to far-flung areas in the region without access to such services.
To date, a total of 600 midwives, close to two thousand barangay health workers, 743 nurses and an additional eleven physicians were installed in various parts of ARMM.
In 2011, 300 midwives were hired under the region-exclusive Midwives in Every Communities in ARMM (MECA) program. The following year, an additional 300 midwives were deployed.
“We are very thankful to the Department of Budget Management for granting DOH-ARMM’s request for additional midwife items,” said Sinolinding.
To further enhance their skills, midwives under the MECA program were trained by the United States Agency for International Development (US-AID) for technical and logistical supervision.
“I am very proud to say that out of the one thousand five hundred deliveries this year, there was zero maternal death,” said Sinolinding.
As for the nurses, this year alone, there were 743 nurses hired under the Registered Nurses for Health Enhancement Local Services (RN HEALS). This is 43 nurses more compared to 2011.
A dearth of rural health physicians in ARMM is a common knowledge. To address the lack of doctors in remote and poor towns of the region, an additional 11 physicians were hired.
They joined the other 20 rural health doctors in far-flung areas of ARMM hired in 2011 under the Doctors to the Barrios program.
According to the DOH-ARMM chief, in 2010 there were only 95 rural health units (RHU) in the region, 23 short to the 118 towns of ARMM.
Each municipality is supposed to have one RHU and that is what the DOH-ARMM is working hard on, Sinolinding added.
During the Hataman administration, an additional eight RHU’s, 182 barangay health stations (BHU) and three more hospitals are being constructed all under the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) of DOH-ARMM.
HFEP is a P164.179 million program sustained by the Transition Investment Support Program (TISP) for ARMM.
“TISP was also used to repair 26 DOH hospitals in the region including 2 military hospitals namely Camp Siongco Station and Camp Brigadier General Salipada Pendatun Hospital,” said Sinolinding.
To improve the quality of healthcare services, the local Health department distributed medical equipment and facilities to selected hospitals in the region.
HFEP has another P87.754 million allotted for the acquisition of medical equipment,
“Matagal na naming inaantay na mga doctors at health managers ang mga karagdagang medical equipment at facilities na ngayon lamang naibigay,” said Dr. Elizabeth Samama, Chief of Hospital of Buluan District Hospital (BDH) in Buluan, Maguindanao.
BDH is one of the hospitals in ARMM that received medical equipment and facilities under HFEP. DOH-ARMM handed them over incubators, ultrasound machine, sterilizer and blood bank refrigerator.
Samama said that the equipment given to their hospital is a great help for them achieve the universal health care for all.
“For us doctors in public service, our morale was boosted because of these,” she said.
Some of the major equipment delivered to various district and municipal hospitals in the region were x-ray machines, defibrillator, ECG machine, mechanical bed, generator set and land and sea ambulances.
Unprecedented in the history of the region, the autonomous regional government adopted a convergence program called ARMM- HELPS February of last year.
ARMM- HELPS or Health, Education, Livelihood, Peace and Governance, and Synergy is a banner program of the reform- oriented present leadership that targets to deliver basic social services to underserved communities in the region.
It focuses on major interventions that will bring the services of the regional government closer to its constituents.
ARMM- HELPS is implemented by the line agencies clustered in health, education, livelihood, peace and governance and synergy.
“One of our top priorities is an improved health care program,” said Governor Hataman.
Thus, all of these initiatives are closely supervised and monitored by the Office of the Regional Governor to ensure its achievement in line with the reform agenda.
The journey towards health successes in ARMM has not been an easy road. DOH-ARMM has come a long way. But with its success stories backed by the unqualified support to health by the autonomous government, it does not come as a surprise that the health situation in the once- most notorious region in the country has never been this good.(Bureau of Public Information)