By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
Andrea Taltala, 52 years old, is a dedicated health worker the past 16 years in the tourist-frequented town of Sagada, Mountain Province. Recently, she was awarded as the most outstanding midwife in the Philippines by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).More than the award however, is the health program in her town at the village level. It is a community-based health program with an organizing component, focused at honing skills, and towards a sustainable direction. An approach that had in fact earned them the title of “Zero Maternal and Child Mortality.”
Like the barangays in Sagada, her station in the northern barangays of Madongo and Bangaan has a Community Social Development Team, which is composed of the midwife, barangay officials, day care workers, members of people’s organizations, church, and non-government organizations.
Known by her indigenous name Andemang, she said that the team is not only focused on the health issues. “It adopted a holistic social approach to include the environment, education, social welfare, among others,” as she points out that health issues may be traceable to other factors, like the environment.
As the midwife is the only professional member of the team, regular trainings – mainly based on the team’s needs – are conducted to hone the skills of other members, added this mother from Nacagang, Sagada.
Now equipped with skills, the team members would get the profile of each family, consolidate the data, identify the problems, recommend solutions, and come up with a plan. All the barangay plans would be consolidated into the municipal level as the their health plan.
Zero maternal and child mortality
Among the focus of their team is on maternal and child mortality, a part of the millennium development goals of the UNFPA. For the zero maternal and child mortality in her area, she received the UNFPA award, besting two Olongapo health workers in the national competition.
In their routine, the team would identify and list the pregnant women in the community, visit and explain the importance of pre-natal check up to their clinics afterwards. From these check ups, they can monitor the situation of the pregnant women.
“We can identify those with problems as they go thru the stages pregnancy. Those with a history of bleeding, high blood, delicate pregnancy, abnormal presentation of the baby are advised to deliver their babies in the tertiary hospital,” she explained. Those with no problem can have a home delivery.
They are able to address problems related to neo-sepsis, among the top killers of newly-born babies in the Philippines. They have no recorded neo-sepsis cases in the Sagada RHU. “We ensure that our birthing instruments are sterile. As to neo-sepsis traceable from the mother’ infections, like urinary or blood-related infections, too much sugar, can be detected by laboratory exams early enough to address these infections,” she added.
Aside from being a hardworking rural health worker, I learned how Andemang achieved her midwife profession.
In her teens, she worked as a domestic helper. Impressed with courage as a woman, her employer endorsed her to a kin who was working at the Dr. Jose Favella Memorial School of Midwifery in Sta. Cruz, Manila to take a scholarship exam. She passed the scholarship exam, studied in the said institution from 1978 to 1981 with board and lodging allowance as component of the scholarship, graduated in 1981 and passed the licensure examination that same year.
Except for brief years of being an overseas Filipino worker in Taiwan, all her professional years were utilized as a health worker in her town of Sagada.
To end the interview, the mother of six and grandmother to five said that she was happy with the UNFPA award. As a health worker by heart, she said that the community-based health program should be institutionalized with the full support of government, particularly for the budget.
Andemang’s deeds are not only worth emulating. They are worth supporting towards the realization of health service is a basic human right. # nordis.net