Renewed hope for community healthcare in Palawan

Health workers and community leaders in Brgy. Irawan use the refurbished birthing facility to implement their medical programs.

For many, Palawan is a haven for travelers, boasting a mix of lush greenery and crystal-clear waters. But for its residents, the enchanting island province is a home and an inseparable part of their identity.

In Brgy. Irawan, Puerto Princesa, midwife Narcisa Jagmis, a proud member of the Tagbanua tribe, leads the community’s birthing facility. Built in 2016, the Brgy. Irawan Birthing facility services roughly 10,000 residents from nearby barangays, including the indigenous peoples.

As Jagmis and her fellow health workers provide familial care in the facility, they managed to provide free prenatal care and deliveries to hundreds of women. However, it had to halt its birthing operations in 2018, needing to meet the requirements of the Department of Health (DOH).

“Nakakalungkot at masakit,” Jagmis opened. “Kahit ilang kilometro ang layo nito sa mga kapwa ko katutubo, ito ang pinakamalapit na birthing facility dito sa aming lugar. Kaya malapit ang loob ng komunidad sa facility, lalo na ng mga kapwa ko katutubo. Noong kami ay nahinto, may mga pagkakataon na may nanganganak na sa loob ng sasakyan.”

Rebirth of a greener future

The SM group, through its social good arm, continues to instigate positive change in health care and environmental protection. Continuing its Health and Medical Programs, SM Foundation revitalized the Brgy. Irawan Birthing Facility, helping it acquire the necessary licenses to bring back its birthing services.

SM Foundation revamped the center’s layout to improve its functionality, fitting it with dedicated rooms and spaces for storage, scrub-up, breastfeeding, consultations, birthing, clean-up and sterilization, as well as labor and recovery wards.

Determined to help maintain Palawan’s pristine environment and strengthen SMFI’s commitment to the SM green movement, the foundation introduced the rainwater harvesting system, a first-of-its-kind innovation in an SMFI Health and Wellness Center geared towards sustainable water management. The foundation also installed energy-efficient lighting fixtures and appliances.

SMFI complemented this initiative by beautifying the center with locally sourced decor plants and painting it with air-cleaning paints with easy-on-the-eye hues to promote physical and emotional healing and recuperation of patients.

Puerto Princesa’s Dr. Ricardo Panganiban said that the development led by the SM group would be a huge step in helping the facility acquire its license to operate from the DOH.

“Ang mga health workers ng birthing facility ay mula dito sa komunidad. Para kaming isang pamilya na malapit ang puso sa lahat ng pasyenteng aming sineserbisyohan. Sa pagsasaayos nito, mas maaalagaan na naming lahat ang aming kalusugan,” Jagmis hoped as they welcome the refurbished facility.

“Ngayon, mas mailalapit na namin ang programang pangkalusugan sa mga tao. Sa halip na sa gamot mapupunta ang kanilang pinaghirapan, mas mailalaan nila ito sa tamang pagkain at iba pang pangangailangan,” she added.

Supporting the SM green movement, SMFI health and medical programs team installed a rainwater harvesting system for sustainable water management.

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