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At Large

Good maternal health and good air quality

One would think, given the declaration by no less than Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia that early pregnancies constitute a “national emergency,” that authorities, especially education officials, would be tripping over themselves to provide sexuality education as early as possible to students.

But in a conference, Education Secretary Leonor Briones defined menstruation as the “expression of the frustration of the uterus at not getting pregnant.”

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Perhaps it’s this belief that pregnancy should be the “natural” condition of women that fuels the reluctance of adults to face head-on the reality that young people are not only having sex but also getting pregnant, or having children long before they’re ready for it.

But, to the thinking of Dr. Marilen Dañguilan who spoke together with Dr. Junice Melgar at a recent “Kuwentong Kabaro” on the Reproductive Health Act, the focus on teenage pregnancy seems unwarranted. While Dañguilan’s concern focused mainly on the budgetary implications of primarily addressing early pregnancy, Melgar noted that maternal mortality as a whole has fallen from the Department of Health’s priorities. There are even plans, Melgar said, to make the RH implementation team that was formed shortly after the passage of the RH law into a mere “advisory” body.

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A major problem, said Dañguilan, is the focus on family planning or the provision of contraceptives of the entire RH program, when RH includes a broad range of concerns including reproductive cancers, HIV/AIDS, domestic violence and adolescent sexuality. Melgar, executive director of the reproductive health NGO Likhaan, pointed out that even as the struggle continues for the full and proper implementation of the RH law five years after its enactment, “there are lessons (to learn) from the RH struggle: if we persist, we can win.” She likewise warned that “comprehensive sexuality education is the next battlefield before the Supreme Court.” “Teenage sexuality is not the problem,” Melgar pointed out. “Unwanted pregnancy mainly due to lack of services is the root cause.”

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Nick and Trina Gitsis say that their involvement in Air Intellipure, a business providing clean air solutions to indoor environments, is rooted in their concern as parents for their two girls’ health.

“Ever since I had children, I’ve always been concerned about their health and the quality of the air they breathe,” says Nick. “Mention a brand of air purifier and I must have bought it.” His concerns were heightened when the older girl began to go to school and would come home with sniffles or worse. “And inevitably,” adds Trina, “her sister would end up getting sick, too.”

But a couple of years ago, Nick met the makers of Air Intellipure and was convinced that he had found the solution to his children’s health concerns, as well as a business that he was sure had a ready market in the Philippines.

“The Philippines still enjoys one of the best air quality in the world,” says Nick, “but in the cities, where a good number of Filipinos live and work, air quality is so poor that the WHO estimates it is approximately 80 percent higher than safe levels.” And the catch is that “health organizations say that indoor air quality is three to five times worse than outside air.”

This is where Air Intellipure comes in. Though there are quite a number of air filters and purifiers in the market, the Gitsis couple claims that “not all air purifiers are created equal.” Not only do Air Intellipure’s purifiers screen and remove more harmful matter and organisms from the air, it also offers a service that not just cleans the environment, but also protects against pollutants and other harmful stuff.

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At a recent media presentation, one of the invited endorsers was Dr. Vicki Belo with her daughter Cristalle. The Belo Medical Group chain is one of the first institutional customers of Air Intellipure, with Dr. Belo testifying how she herself felt the difference when she stepped out of the firm’s “sealed” room.

But to Trina, the best testimony is that of a mother of three whose children all suffered from asthma. When they installed an Air Intellipure purifier in their home months ago, the mother reported that not once has any of the children been afflicted with the ailment. That’s news that warms the heart of the mother in Trina.

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TAGS: Air Intellipure, air quality, At Large, Maternal health, rina jimenez david, teen pregnancy
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