Mercy In Action has a long history of setting up free maternity clinics in the Philippines, as well as running other ministries such as feeding programs, orphanages, medical outreach, and disaster response. As of January 2019, we have delivered more than 15,000 babies free of charge, and have birth centers or maternity care outreaches in five communities in the Philippines, on three different islands. We have rebuilt two birth centers in the recovering disaster zone on Leyte and Samar island, and are in the planning stages of building another birthing home in Olongapo.
All of Mercy in Action’s birth centers, clinics, and outreach programs are directed and staffed by Filipina Licensed Midwives.
Mercy Midwives Birthing Home
Mercy In Action's clinics provides free maternity care for the poorest of the poor, with an emphasis on respectful and compassionate care, as well as evidence-based practices which support better outcomes for mothers and babies. Our newborn and maternal statistics are respectively 4 and 8 times better than the Philippines national average. We attribute this is a high quality of comprehensive maternity care which promotes kindness and strives to remove common barriers to care.
Removing barriers to care
The Philippines has a high rate of neonatal and maternal mortality. More than half of all deliveries in this country are occurring without the aid of a skilled birth attendant. For years, health experts have known that there are certain barriers to care which prevent mothers from seeking or obtaining a skilled birth attendant for their delivery. These barriers may include inability to pay a birth attendant, lack of transportation to a facility, or even the availability of enough trained birth attendants for a community. To address the financial barriers, all care is free of charge. To address the transportation barriers, when possible we provide free transportation in our ambulance as well as having built maternity waiting homes for women who must travel from far away. To address the availability of trained birth attendants barriers, we work with local licensed midwives, provide up-to-date skills trainings for local providers, scholarship Filipina students through their midwifery education, and have established our clinic in between two communities with the lowest birth-attendance rate in the city; one community lives on a garbage dump, and the other lives in resettlement villages.
More recently, the health experts have begun to discuss another barrier to care; lack of kindness to the mother. We have known this all along, even though it has not been often discussed in the past, but if a mother does not believe she will be treated nicely by a medical professional, she will not seek that professional's help. A shameful fact is that many health providers can be cruel to the women they serve, especially in childbirth. To address this barrier, we have built our foundational values and practices around principles of love, kindness, and respect for everyone. We have created a sanctuary within our clinics where women will feel safe and loved by their care providers. In fact, when we survey women who have delivered at our clinics, and we ask "why did you come here?", the answer we would expect is "because it's free", but in fact, the answer we most often hear is "because you are kind"
International MotherBaby Childbirth Initiative
We are part of the International MotherBaby Childbirth Initiative (IMBCI) Network, and use this initiative as a model of care in our community. Because of the reputation of our clinic, combined with the authority of an internationally recognized initiative (IMBCI), we have been invited to teach this model to professional associations and clinical settings across the Philippines, including the largest maternity hospital in Southeast Asia. This is part of our effort to effect change not just in our own community, but across the country.
The IMBCI model includes these 10 steps:
Step 1 - Treat every woman with respect and dignity.
Step 2 - Possess and routinely apply midwifery knowledge and skills that optimize the normal physiology of birth and breastfeeding.
Step 3 - Inform the mother of the benefits of continuous support during labour and birth, and affirm her right to receive such support from companions of her choice.
Step 4 - Provide drug-free comfort and pain relief methods during labour, explaining their benefits for facilitating normal birth.
Step 5 - Provide evidence-based practices proven to be beneficial.
Step 6 - Avoid potentially harmful procedures and practices.
Step 7 - Implement measures that enhance wellness and prevent illness and emergencies.
Step 8 - Provide access to evidence-based skilled emergency treatment.
Step 9 - Provide a continuum of collaborative care with all relevant health care providers, institutions, and organizations.
Step 10 - Strive to achieve the BFHI 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.
Send donations of medical supplies or newborn clothes and hats:
Mercy In Action Philippines Headquarters
Mercy In Action
c/o Vicki Penwell
PO Box 62
Subic Bay Freeport Zone
Zambales 2222, Philippines
If shipping by LBC to a street address:
Mercy In Action
c/o Penwell/ Tison
1833 Bennet Road, Forestry
Old Cabalan, Olongapo City,
Zambales 2200, Philippines
AND FOR OUR VISAYAS LOCATIONS:
Mercy In Action/Cumpio Midwife Clinic
c/o Nerissa Cumpio
Zone 2 Brgy. Sto.
Leyte 6502, Philippines
Your donations help keep our clinics open and free for the community