The Role of Ayod Community Health Teams in Promoting Maternal and Infant Health in a Municipality in Ifugao, Philippines

Floreliz V. Ngaya-an1 and Cathrine Fowler2

1College of Nursing, University of the Philippines Manila, Philippines
2Tresillian Chair in Child and Family Health, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia

Objective. This study investigates the role of the Ifugao Community Health Teams, or the Ayods that function as frontline health workers, responsible for tracking pregnant women, bringing them to clinics for check-ups and encouraging planned facility-based birth. Specifically, this study examines their contribution to the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Project, jointly initiated by the Philippines Department of Health (DOH) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Commencing in 2006 and ending in 2010, the project aimed to improve the health and safety of mothers and newborns by ensuring the availability of quality health care, and increasing utilization of health facility and services.

Methods. A qualitative interpretive descriptive approach was used to guide the study. Three focus group discussions were conducted to collect data from a total of 21 participants, who were active members of the Community Health Teams in one municipality in Ifugao. To work with these data, an a priori template analysis was used to assist in identifying themes within the data.

Results. This study has highlighted three major themes: (1) Collaborative efforts of the Ayods play a role in the achievement of significant health outcomes for the community; (2) Equity, access and beliefs are key factors in the delivery of health care; and (3) Sustainability is secured through self-reliance and volunteerism.

Conclusion. The engagement of Ayods to trace and support pregnant women appears to have several successful health outcomes. The employment of existing community health workers and volunteers enabled the creation of sustainable model for isolated communities. It is anticipated that this vital service will continue to be provided. Nevertheless it will require ongoing and increasing support through the provision of allowances, education and community commitment to voluntary work.

Key Words: community health teams, facility-based births, pregnancy tracking, maternal and child health, antenatal care