Better Health Care for Premature and Low Birth Weight Babies

by Rena Ivy Tamares-Bascuña, MD

The Philippine Retinopathy of Prematurity Working Group (ROPWG), since its inception in 2012, has been reaching out to colleagues in the health care profession and to other stakeholders in the community in an effort to increase the awareness of the potentially blinding retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). Limited awareness and poverty, among other causes, have resulted in long term significant health problems, if not high mortality. Permanent blindness which could be a consequence of ROP in babies at risk, may lead to a decrease in the quality of life for these babies and their families.

On November 25,2016, the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC) supported by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the Z-Benefits Package for premature and small babies during the National Summit on Prematurity and Low Birth Weight at The Peninsula Manila. This package aims to cover a wide range of interventions related to prematurity, from management of preterm labor to treatment of complications related to prematurity and low birth weight. Preterms and low birth weight infants, defined as babies born 36 weeks and below and 2000 grams and below, respectively, may avail of such benefit starting 2017.

With better medical coverage, families of preterms and low birth weight babies can hope to look forward to inclusive quality health care services with less financial burden, improving not just survival rates of these babies, but their quality of life as well.


About The Author

Dr. Rena Ivy Tamares-Bascuña is a Pediatric Ophthalmologist. She completed her Ophthalmology Residency and Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Fellowship at the DOH Eye Center in East Avenue Medical Center. She has been practicing in the Bicol region (Naga City and Legaspi City) since 2013.