by Anna Liza Cabrido

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — The South Cotabato health office has raised concerns over the high incidence of maternal deaths, reaching at least 16 cases since last year.

Genesis Navales, the focal person for maternal health care program of the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), said Monday that they recorded a total of 12 cases in the second half of 2018 and four more were added as of the end of May.

Navales said the four new cases this year were from Koronadal City and the municipalities of Tupi and Banga.

“We have an ongoing community maternal death investigation to determine their cause and related circumstances,” she said in a media forum.

Navales said the cases of maternal deaths in the province started to increase in the third quarter of 2018 following the zero incidence during the first half. These were recorded in the municipalities of T’boli, Polomolok and Surallah, and in Koronadal City.

Most of the deaths were caused by maternal sepsis or blood infection; preeclampsia or hypertension during pregnancy, during delivery and after delivery; hemorrhage or loss of blood; and, pulmonary embolism.

The youngest fatality was a 15-year-old mother while the oldest was a 43-year-old who died while delivering her 11th child.

Navales said these cases could have been prevented if the mothers properly availed of four quality prenatal care checkups from doctors or trained health workers during their pregnancy.

She said these crucial checkups could have allowed the pregnant mothers to plan out for possible complications and save them from deaths.

“But the reality is that, most pregnant mothers only seek prenatal checkup after several months or when their tummies are already big,” she said.

Navales cited that prenatal services are given for free in barangay health stations and in municipal and city health offices.

She said some local health offices provide free laboratory services, among them for hemoglobin and infections like hepatitis, sexually-transmitted syphilis and human immunodeficiency virus or HIV.

Aside from getting proper prenatal care for pregnant women, she said the observance of proper family planning is also important.

“If pregnancies are planned properly, we can prevent at least 30 percent of these maternal deaths,” she added. (PNA)

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