BASEY, Samar – In an effort to avert infant deaths in home-based delivery, the municipal government would convert “hilots” or traditional midwives into health workers. Delivery through the hilots remain to be practice in this town, particularly on its remote villages which put the lives of new born babies in danger, exposing them to airborne diseases, said Darlene Wong, nurse assigned at the Municipal Health Office(MHO). She said that the municipal government, under Mayor Igmedio Junji Ponferrada, does not believe in imposing penalties to the hilots. Instead, they should be provided with alternative livelihood like being recognized as health workers, Wong said.

“Unlike other municipalities which imposes penalties among traditional midwives which is not good. We also think of their way of living so we planned for an alternative livelihood instead,” Wong said. Based on their record, there were 37 reported delivery conducted by the hilots from January to July this year, representing 6.49% of the town’s total number of deliveries of the said given period. Wong, however, could not say as to how many hilots there are in their town. Wong said that giving birth through the traditional way would expose the safety of the newly-born babies. “The set up in our home is not safe unlike in a hospital where the instruments are clean and safe. Traditional midwives do not have enough scientific knowledge in giving births compared to skilled professionals,” she added.

Wong said that their office has been conducting counseling activities as part of their campaign to encourage expectant mothers of safe delivery. “Because of the help coming from non-government organizations, the conduct of our campaign has become successful. Though there are still stubborn mothers who reason out that there is no difference of delivery babies in hospital and in the home,” she said. The municipal health office said that they are committed in their goal for community health development, which includes decreasing mortality rate of new born babies, increasing maternal facility, and continuing the campaign against traditional birthing. (Jul V. Grabillo, LNU Intern)