Among the Millenial Development Goals (MDG) of the Philippines is to reduce maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. According to the Department of Health (DOH), one important strategy to achieve this is to continuously train new and competent midwives.

Midwives, more than nurses or doctors, are the trusted frontliners in rural healthcare centres. It is their knowledge, competence and skills in delivering babies that has made them invaluable in the community in the area of healthcare. Besides delivery babies, they have taken on the role of prenatal care, vaccinations, and even family planning at the village level.

Unfortunately, there is also a lack in qualified midwives especially in remote rural places, where maternal and infant morbidity and mortality is high. Without their services, the Health department is hard-pressed to ensure the continuity of maternal services.

To address this concern, DOH is encouraging qualified freshmen to apply for midwifery scholarship grants offered by the agency.

The Midwifery Scholarship Program of the Philippines (MSPP) is a DOH-initiated scholarship sponsorship grant project created precisely as a tool for achieving the MDG on maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality.

The DOH Executive Committee first approved Resolution No 112-232 s. 2007 to implement the Deployment Programme, including the midwifery scholarship programme.

MSPP includes a two-year scholarship grant within partner midwifery schools. Aside from the tuition, scholars receive monthly a living subsidy, lodging subsidy, transportation allowance and Philhealth insurance coverage.

In exchange, MSPP Scholars, after obtaining their Professional Regulation Commission license, will serve as Rural Health Midwives (RHMs) to be deployed in priority areas identified by the DOH.

Return service means two years of service for every year of scholarship received within an identified priority area.

In particular, the Bicol region is in dire need of midwives. According to DOH Regional Director Napoleon L. Arevalo, students from geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas such as 5th or 6th class municipalities in Bicol will be given priority for the scholarships.

Interested parties are requested to visit the dOH regional office's Human Resource Development Unit to fill out application forms and submit the necessary requirements.

Requirements include completely filled scholarship form, report card no. 18, birth certificate, good moral character certification, and prescribed pictures.

The current partner schools are Dr Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital-School of Midwifery in Manila, the Naga College Foundation, University of the Philippines-Manila School of Health Sciences, and the Tecarro College Foundation, Inc. in Davao City.

In recent years, Bicol has been recording high rates of maternal complications. There were 173 maternal deaths reported in 2015, and by November of 2016, there were 124 cases.

Majority of the cases occurred immediate post-partum and cited hypertension, or eclampsia, as primary cause.

Other causes include indirect medical conditions, sepsis infection and the transit from home to the health facility.

DOH-Bicol Family Cluster programme coordinator, Dr Rita Mae Ang-Bon said the LGUs in the region have been intensifying their campaign to decrease maternal deaths. Village health workers and midwives have been already deployed in all of the region’s villages to render care. MIMS

Read more:

PPAN 2017-2022: Updated national nutrition plan launched
Benefits of folic acid intake during pregnancy
What does the artificial womb mean for the future of fertility and neonatal care?