by Lee-an Rosal
I was a student nurse then. As part of our requirements to graduate, we had to immerse in one of the far-flung barrios outside of Metro Manila.
I am sure all student nurses will attest to this: that the health centers in these places lack the necessary medicines and equipment that could answer to emergent cases brought into these clinics. It would be lucky for a barrio to have a resident doctor or a registered community health nurse to attend to its 500-1000 inhabitants; but since there is a lack of professionals who choose to serve in the community setting, midwives have been authorized to take charge.
It was a Wednesday when my groupmates and I headed for the health center in a remote town in Cavite. It was maternal health day. I didn’t know what to expect as we arrived but it was evident in my heart that if I’d be chosen to demonstrate how a condom is inserted in a banana and if I’d be explaining the advantages of artificial methods of family planning, I would graciously back off. My beliefs as a Catholic, I reasoned out in my head, should complement my duty as a nurse.
Upon reaching the small clinic I noticed around 20 women waiting in line. The midwife ushered us to the front and handed out pre-filled syringes to administer intramuscularly. I read the label: “Depo-Provera.” There were lots of it. It came in boxes that outnumbered the basic medicines that a regular health center should have. It was said to us later on that politicians and pharmaceutical companies “donate” these boxes in order to administer the drug for free.
I overheard one of the women saying that she lined up for free injections because she learned from a neighbor that it would make her strong against diseases that normally take the life of people in that place. I went over to ask her myself.
“Alam niyo po ba kung ano yung gamot na tinuturok sa inyo?”
“Ay, oo, iha. Vitamins daw yan. Pampalakas. Tsaka para di din daw ako manganak ng manganak.”
It was my turn to perform the intramuscular injection. We had to fill up a competency form that would tell us we did the procedure properly.
I backed off as I earlier warned myself.
Depo-Provera is not “vitamins.” It’s like poison in an injectable deceiving people to think that it has no long-term effects.
I stood aghast at the fact the pros and cons of the drug was not explained! And shouldn’t we as health care providers practice the 10 rights of medication administration? One blaring rule is: RIGHT CLIENT EDUCATION. Apparently, if in this quaint town, the right information wasn’t being given out, how many more barrios think the same? How many more women are misinformed?
What is even appalling is that the surplus of these contraceptive drugs undermine the reality that the other diseases that plague the area can’t be given full medical attention to. To my fellow nurses and health care providers, do herbal medicines ring a bell? Didn’t the Department of Health teach these poor localities to plant herbal plants since access to medicines that could target the disease at its core can’t be given?
This is why I am so against the Reproductive Health Bill.
To make the situation worse, my former boss, Health Secretary Ona has issued an administrative order that mimics the content of the RH Bill last June 27. The bill is still being reviewed. It has not even been passed. And here we are, using the powers of the Executive to put the order in full blast.
If you try and read the provisions of the bill, if you look into DOH-Administrative Order entitled,“National Strategy towards Reducing Unmet Need for Modern Family Planning,” it sounds too good to be true. That by 2015, issues on maternal health risks will be addressed as part of Aquino’s plan to give Universal Health Care.
But one can dream, Mr. President. One can dream, Dr. Ona.
The flowery words are useless when children die and many poor people die because the centers that they hope will address their health solutions give out free “poison drugs under the veil of vitamins” instead of oxygen and antibiotics.
Stop pushing for a bill that destroys the essence of life when you can’t address the basic needs an ordinary Filipino should have in order to live! WE CAN SEE THE OBVIOUS. We don’t need condoms, pills and sex education. THERE ARE MORE BASIC NEEDS I SHOULD HAVE IN ORDER TO BREATHE IN, BREATHE OUT. IN ORDER TO SURVIVE. TO LIVE.
NO TO RH BILL!