Philippines ranked first in child health care
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
The Annual State of the World’s Mothers Report issued last week by Save the Children, a global independent humanitarian organization based in the United States, ranked the Philippines on top of 55 countries for its efforts in reaching children under five years old with basic health care, which refers to babies and under-five children having prenatal care, skilled care at childbirth, immunization and treatment for common ailments like pneumonia and diarrhea.
The report also shows that “the Philippines is making good progress in improving health care for children and has achieved a 48 percent reduction in under-five death rate since 1990”. The Philippines, however, is one among 12 of the 55 countries included in the study that show glaring disparities in which the poorest children are three or more times more likely to die without being reached with basic health care or treatment.
In this age of globalization and progress, it is unthinkable that children should still be deprived of nutrition or the most basic of services such as education and health care. Yet, access to these services remains to be a major challenge for the government. Surveys show that one out of three children under age 5 are underweight; among school children, one in five are underweight. Only one in 5 children, aged 3 to 5 have access to day care or preschool services. The infant mortality rate is 22 per 1,000 childbirths. Moreover, an alarming number of young children have iron-deficiency anemia, compounded by soil-transmitted parasitic anemia in older children.
It does not help that only 10% of doctors and dentists and 35% of nurses now practice in rural areas. More and more doctors are turning to the nursing profession. The attrition rate of medical professionals working in the public sector is running at an average of 20 percent in some LGUs. The number of physicians and nurses working in the country is now down to half, as more and more countries have an increased demand for medical professionals.
The best and most effective way to improve the delivery of basic services is to target the grassroots level through the local government units (LGUs), specifically the barangays. We practice an admirable principle called bayanihan, in which barrio folks help each other in daily tasks and endeavors. Each community should learn to be self-sufficient and cooperate with each other in helping improve the status and condition of families and their children. Better-off families can be tapped to contribute their resources to help the poor and more needy ones. Barangay and municipal heads must learn to be more resourceful and creative in the exercise of their leadership, especially in the utilization of available funds and resources. Each community’s goal should be zero hunger and poverty, zero disease, zero garbage. If all of our barrios can focus on this, we would have solved most of the country’s problems, and a great part of the world’s problems.
The young children of this present generation will be the future generation in the coming years, the brains and brawn of the future population which will support the progress and development of our country. Our present job is to plan our country’s future with some degree of certainty. Each one of us, not only the government, has this responsibility.