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Monday, August 06, 2007

Sunday's round-up

Why breastfeeding is pro-health

By Cathy S. Babao-Guballa
Last updated 05:21am (Mla time) 08/05/2007

MANILA, Philippines - As a young, first-time mother, it was my greatest wish to breastfeed my baby girl, knowing fully well the countless benefits that it would give her.

Back in 1991 there was not much support to be found here in the Philippines for breastfeeding mothers. In my desire to find someone who could motivate and teach me how, I called up the wife of my husband's friend known to be gung-ho and passionate about breastfeeding.

With all good intentions, this breast feeding advocate came to our house and like a drill sergeant, began lecturing me about why I should breastfeed my baby. Because I was taking care of a colicky baby, I was tired from lack of sleep; but she wrestled my baby from me and began instructing me on how I should position myself, my baby and my breasts!

Maybe I was simply exhausted, but I could not wait to see her leave. The experience, rather than encourage me, almost turned me off from trying to breastfeed.

The lesson here is that there are many ways to teach and encourage a mother to breastfeed and that the teacher needs to be sensitive to a new mother's emotional state.

The first week of August has been declared National Breastfeeding Week. Today, there are many support groups available for mothers who wish to breastfeed their babies. Barangay health centers are equipped with health workers who can ably instruct mothers on the proper way to breastfeed.

However, in spite of this, the Philippines remains notorious for milk code violations, and day by day the number of babies dying from various diseases (which can be countered by breastfeeding) continues to rise.

UNICEF and the WHO are up in arms against milk companies for violating the milk code. Both organizations say that as a result of this, the Philippines is one of 42 countries that account for 90 percent under-5 deaths globally.

Continue reading here.

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P3.5 B alloted for health insurance in proposed 2008 budget

The Philippine Star , August 5, 2007

Government will pay for the health insurance of an estimated 23.5 million poor Filipinos next year, allocating P3.5 billion for the purpose in the proposed 2008 General Appropriations Act, Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. said Friday.

Andaya said the amount will be put in the National Insurance Health Program (NHIP) of the government, which in turn will be used to enroll 4.7 million indigent families, at a cost of P746 per family, under Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) coverage.

As each family averages five members, total number of beneficiaries would reach 23.5 million, Andaya said.

“This means one in four Filipinos next year will be covered by PhilHealth. It is a ratio government can be proud of,” he said.

The funding for NHIP has been on the rise since 2005, when it was allocated P750 million, or about one-fifth of its current level, before it rose to P2.9 billion in 2006.

Andaya said the P3.5 billion budget for NHIP for 2008, which is the same as this year, is separate from the proposed P15 billion allocation for the Department of Health (DoH) next year.

He pointed out the 2008 budget of the DoH is P2.7 billion bigger than its 2007 budget, “which is proof of the government’s pledge to make the health sector a major recipient of its social payback program.”

The planned 22 percent hike in the budget of DoH puts it next to the Department of Science and Technology, whose 2008 budget will be hiked by 51 percent, in the list of agencies getting the largest budgetary increase next year.

Andaya said both the DoH budget and the earmarks for PhilHealth coverage of poor households constitute a portion of the larger “public health sector” budget.

Under the latter are operating subsidies to the four Quezon City-based specialty hospitals —the Lung, Heart, Children, Kidney Centers —and hospitals run by state colleges such as the Philippine General Hospital.

Also under the “public health sector budget” are parts of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) which will be used to run hospitals and clinics “devolved” to or established by local governments.

Continue reading here.