August 16


A fruitful field visit – Mindanao – Day 1 Episode 1

For the next 6 days, I will be on field visits in the rural communities of Mindanao. There is a packed itinerary during which I will be able to gather information for the case study on the use of the birth plan and visit the GSK project sites in the provinces of Sultan Kudarat (South West) and the Maternal and Child Health program starting in Sarangani (South).

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Mindanao is overwhelmingly green and so very beautiful with its rugged mountain ranges in the distance, cloaked in low hanging cloud, rice fields, pineapple and banana plantations, palm trees – such a contrast to Manila. No offense Manila, but I am very glad to be here!


It also happens to be the fruit season and the harvest is in full swing. There was a vast array of fruit stalls en route so we stopped to have a taste – the pineapples are especially delicious, and expertly prepared:



Our first visit of the day was at a birthing home in Lambayong, one of the GSK project sites. The key aims of the project are to increase the availability of quality healthcare services to children under 5, improve the administrative function of the government health system and increase the skills of Community health Volunteers (CHV’s) to promote good health and nutrition. We were shown around the facility, which was fairly well equipped and staffed compared to most.




Labour ward


Delivery room



Second delivery table – sometimes required to ‘double up’


Equipment set up


Next, we visited the first DOH licensed Barangay birthing facility in the entire region in Kapingkong, but not before a photo opportunity and lunch with the Barangay chairperson, Hon Antonio Brana.



We were given an impromptu presentation after lunch, highlighting some of the challenges, actions, results and next steps for this Barangay. Among the key challenges are improving the number of facility based deliveries with skilled birth attendants. Home deliveries by a hilot – a traditional healer, are illegal in the Philippines and families can be fined 2000 pesos – the same cost as delivering at a birth centre. However, access to these facilities in time for the birth can be challenging in terms of travel costs, distance and terrain.


Decrease in home deliveries and Skilled Birth Attendant attendance from 8% to 2% since 2011


Increase in Newborn Screening Coverage from 43% to 98% since 2011





















I  interviewed 2 pregnant mothers about the birth plan followed by a focus group session with the CHW’s facilitated by Dr Parawan.

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It was an enlightening and fun way to illicit their feedback and ideas for further improvements – stimulating ideas for us on what is really needed in these communities.


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A fruitful field visit in more ways than one…. a huge thank you to all the staff and community members for their time and gracious hospitality!

Episode 2 coming soon 🙂