The Korean government, through its aid agency the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), has been supporting the health of women and their children in Palawan for the last year.
Since March 2015 to March 2016, Puerto-Princesa-based Roots of Health has been partnering with the Korean nonprofit, Global Together and KOICA. Through the grant, Roots of Health provided maternal health education and services to resource-poor women from six puroks in three barangays within the city. Programs included maternal health classes, direct clinical services and the training of community health workers.
The maternal health classes were intended to provide health and empowerment education to women and girls. The activity-based classes drew large crowds of interested women. The classes covered many topics but focused on the body and its reproductive systems, how pregnancy happens, how contraception works, proper prenatal and post-natal care, and the basics of financial literacy.
Roots of Health also provided free contraceptives to every participant so that women could space their pregnancies. Birth spacing leads to healthier babies and healthier mothers. To further improve birth outcomes, Roots of Health provided all pregnant women and girls with free prenatal checkups and prenatal vitamins. Through the generosity of KOICA’s support, Roots of Health was also able to provide pregnant women who could not afford to give birth in a facility with the funds in order to give birth in the hospital or a lying in clinic.
Through this productive partnership, over the course of one year, Roots of Health provided 224 women with health education, 1,081 women with free contraceptives, and 290 women received prenatal vitamins, with free prenatal care. 106 women received financial support to give birth in a facility with a skilled birth attendant. In the six communities over the year the facility-based delivery rate was 94%.
As the development arm of the Korean government, one of KOICA’s biggest priorities is improving maternal health and infant health outcomes. KOICA only provides direct aid to other governments but they support civil society organizations by making grants to Korean non-profit organizations that then support nonprofits in donor recipient countries.
A new three-year partnership began in May 2016 and will continue until May 2019. The new grant will also include teaching young people and teachers about reproductive health in an effort to improve the teenage pregnancy and maternal mortality indicators in the city. We are grateful for the Korean government’s support and for their help in improving and safeguarding maternal and reproductive health in Palawan!