Proposal to establish maternal and infant health home visiting program snowballs

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Two more lawmakers filed a proposal establishing a maternal and infant health home visiting program for low-income pregnant teenagers.

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Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) and his brother Rep. Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. (Abante Mindanao, Inc.party list) filed HB 2510 in a bid to improve and expand availability of and access to needed comprehensive maternity care services that enable pregnant adolescents to obtain proper care and assist them and their parents in becoming productive independent contributors to family and community life.

“Pregnancy among unmarried teenagers is one of the most difficult and far-reaching social problems in our country today. This is generally prevalent among women aged 15 to 24 years who are from the low-income bracket,” Rodriguez (the elder or younger one?) said.

He said since it is at this stage where teenagers are supposed to be enjoying their lives but their pregnancies are often considered untimely or unwanted so maturity and preparedness required of every parent are often wanting.

Earlier, Rep. Sol Aragones (3rd District, Laguna) filed a similar proposal through HB 338.

In filing the measure, Rodriguez cited Article II Section 12 of the 1987 Constitution which mandates the State to equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.

“In line with this provision, the State must provide pre-natal and post-natal maternity care services in homes of pregnant teenagers to protect their health as well as the future and well-being of their newborn children,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said Department of Health (DOH) provides free pre-natal and post-natal consultations designed to reduce incidence of maternal and infant mortality.

“However, due to several reasons, one of which is financial difficulty, pre-natal and post-natal services have been ignored,” he said.

Under the measure to be known as the Maternal and Infant Care Act, pregnant women who are below 21 years of age or families with an infant up to age one and belonging to the low-income bracket shall be eligible to receive maternal and infant care services in their homes.

It mandates DOH to designate an appropriate health professional or qualified non-professional acting under the supervision of a health care professional who’ll deliver the home-based maternal and child health services.

Under the bill, those services will provide instruction and counseling regarding future health care for the woman and her child; nutrition counseling; counseling and education concerning all aspects of prenatal care, childbirth and motherhood; general family counseling including child and family development and medical care or referral for medical care for the woman and her child.

Any maternal and child health service which shall be made available shall not advocate or encourage abortion. PNA

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