CITY OF SAN FERNANDO - Hundreds of midwives in Central Luzon are at risk of losing their practice due to additional restrictions set by the Department of Health (DOH) on operations of birthing clinics in the country.

Members of Integrated Midwives Association of the Philippines (IMAP), the Philippine Society of Private Midwife Clinic Owners (PSPMCO) and the Private Practicing Midwives Association (PPMA) asked DOH to review its Administrative Order (AO) No. 2021-005.

The said order allegedly restrains midwives from administering their services to women giving birth for the first time and for the fifth time and beyond.

“Aside from the existing restrictions, ipinagbawal na rin sa amin under the new AO ang magpaanak ng mga first time mothers at ‘yung manganganak for the 5th time pataas,” said Patricia Gomez, executive director of IMAP.

Prior to the issuance of AO No. 2021-005, midwives are not allowed to handle women with high-risk pregnancies such as teenagers and those who are delivering under cesarean section, among others.

Amethyst Castro, IMAP Central Luzon President, lamented that DOH did not consult with midwives when they crafted and issued the said order.

She disclosed that more than 300 birthing centers in Central Luzon are affected by the implementation of the said policy.

“Dito sa Pampanga, nasa dalawa na ang nagsarang birthing centers. Mas marami sa Bulacan. Nakikita namin tataas pa ito by 5% to 10% kung tuluy-tuloy na ipapatupad ito,” she said.

Castro also said that the AO is contrary to law on anti-discriminatory on patients, and inhibits the freedom and right of choice of mothers.

She added that it is not only anti-poor, but also puts at risk the lives of both mother and child.

“Kailangan namin i-turn down ang mga nanay na gustong manganak sa amin dahil sa AO. Mahirap sa amin hindi lang dahil nawawalan kami ng pasyente, kundi dahil napipilitan ang mga nanay na pumila ng mahaba sa public hospital, o magbayad ng malaki sa private hospital, o kaya kumuha ng mga hilot lalo na sa mga remote na lugar na malalayo ang ospital,” Castro said.

“Marami ang may gusto sa birthing centers dahil personalized ang aming service pero at the same time, affordable. Kung tatanggihan namin sila, saan sila pupunta? Sa siksikan, sa mahal, o hahanap nalang sila ng ibang paraan,” she added.

The groups urged DOH Secretary Teodoro Herbosa to review the order and clarify matters on the specific provisions of (AO) No. 2021-005.

They said comprehensive partnership with all the concerned professionals, government agencies, and other partners would be beneficial to both parties, as well as both mother and child.