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12, 2013

NR # 3254B

Bill establishing maternal and infant health home visiting program snowballs
Two more lawmakers have filed a proposal establishing a maternal and infant health home visiting program for the low-income pregnant teenagers. Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) and his brother, Rep. Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. (Party-list, Abante Mindanao, Inc.), filed House Bill 2510 in a bid to improve and expand the availability of and access to needed comprehensive maternity care services that enable pregnant adolescents to obtain proper care and assist them and their parents to become 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 1524 who are from the low-income bracket, Rodriguez said. Rodriguez said since it is at this stage where these teenagers are supposed to be enjoying their lives, their pregnancies are often considered untimely or unwanted, hence, maturity and preparedness required of every parent are often times, wanting. 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 the home of pregnant teenagers in order to protect their health as well as the future and well-being of their newborn children, Rodriguez said. Rodriguez said the Department of Health (DOH) provides free prenatal and postnatal consultations designed to reduce the incidence of maternal and infant mortality. However, due to several reasons, one of which is financial difficulty, pre-natal and postnatal services have been ignored, he added. 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 the age of one and, belonging to the low-income bracket, shall be eligible to receive maternal and infant care services in their home. It mandates the Department of Health (DOH) to designate an appropriate health professional or a qualified non-professional acting under the supervision of a health care professional that shall deliver maternal and child health services in the home of eligible

individuals. Under the bill, the maternal and child health 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. Earlier, Rep. Sol Aragones (3rd District, Laguna) has filed a similar proposal through House Bill 338. (30) lvc