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PIA Press Release
2009/06/09

Gov. Padaca to address high mortality of Agta infants

Cabagan, Isabela (9 June) -- Gov. Grace Padaca of Isabela assured to conduct a special medical mission to Agta community in the mountains of Sierra Madre Natural Park along Isabela Province to address the problem on high mortality rate of Agta infants.

Padaca's action is in response to the result of a 4-year study and research conducted by Tessa Minter, a student of Leiden University in Netherland, on the lives of Agta, particularly in the Dumagats in the Northern Sierra Madre.

Minter's study shows that though Agta's population is not decreasing, the problem lies on the high infant mortality rate due to several diseases that are not being addressed.

The study bared that Agta child's chance of dying before 5 years old is 7 times higher than that of an average Filipino child.

Minter recommended that the government must focus on the programs that will address the problems such as vaccination programs for infants and information campaign on safe motherhood, inculcate to them the importance of breastfeeding and the importance of drinking clean water.

Minter also encouraged the government to tap interventions that will educate the Agtas on proper healthy lifestyle.

In response, Gov. Padaca said she will intensify her health programs for the Dumagats (Aetas in the Sierra Madre), wherein she allotted funds to be utilized to transport sick Agta by plane to the hospital and to shoulder their hospitalization expenses.

Aside from the medical mission, Padaca also plans to saturate information and education campaign on healthy lifestyle and breastfeeding to the Agtas and to educate them on the proper way of living even if they are in the forest.

"Our Dumagats deserve special treatment because they are special people and they are the original people in the valley," Padaca said.

Padaca also noted Minter's report that only less than 10 percent of Agtas children are enrolled in formal education because of the problems in the far distance of school facilities, lack of safe environment to live and negative experiences. (Ver/PIA-Cagayan) [top]

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