April 3, 2012
It's not every day a government office breaks into song to promote a cause, especially something along the lines of women's rights. So when the Department of Health (DOH) released the catchy "Sa Health Center, Suportado Ka!" jingle to promote the National Safe Motherhood Program, a good number of people—women especially—took time out of their busy schedules to listen.
DOH Assistant Secretary Enrique Tayag opened the program with some disturbing figures. In the Philippines, a total of seven women and 17 newborn babies die every day because of perilous methods of giving birth or careless pregnancies. That's an estimated total 8,760 lives every year, all of which could have been saved if only health centers and safe motherhood programs were better disseminated among Filipino women.
"It all starts with a visit to your nearest health facility," said Tayag who, two years ago, took on the task of improving health centers around the country together with local government units (LGUs), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the rest of the Department of Health. Because of these efforts, health centers today are equipped with up-to-date medical equipment and trained health service providers to strengthen Maternal and Child Health (MCH) services.
However, perhaps because the project is wanting in promotion, only a few women are aware of such services.
It was in this context that the Department of Health decided to get creative and arrange a radio jingle conveying a simple yet very important message: that all expecting women are invited to visit their local health centers before, during and after pregnancy to reduce the risk of complications in the crucial nine months. Paired with the musical inclination of Filipinos, the song is hoped to improve the upsetting mortality figures in the long run.
Sing a song
Listen to Kuh Ledesma and daughter Isabella as they sing the "Sa Health Center, Suportado Ka" jingle.
Seasoned Original Pilipino Music (OPM) singer Kuh Ledesma and her daughter Isabella (also a singer) were chosen to breathe life into the jingle, largely because both of them said that they shared the same thrust as the project they were embarking on. As celebrities, the two are also perfect for DOH's primary objective to exert all efforts into making the song go viral.
Apart from continually raising funds to build libraries and churches for less fortunate communities in Cavite, Kuh Ledesma is also an advocate of safe motherhood as much as she is an advocate for uplifting the lives of underprivileged children. During the media launch, the singer expressed how much of an honor it was for her and her daughter to be tapped by the Department of Health and be asked to sing such a powerful radio jingle.
"Ako man, five years in Nursing," Ledesma said in an effort to articulate her knowledge about healthcare, adding that it's also one of the reasons why she felt she can contribute a lot to this project. "Basta, we are just so, so honored. Thank you DOH and to everyone who's involved in this wonderful project." said the OPM singer.
The radio jingle was originally sung by Rizza Makabenta, arranged by Mel Villena, and composed by Richard Bugho, Jairus Ocampo and members of the DOH-CHD Eastern Visayas. In a nutshell, it reiterates their main "Sa health center, suportado ka!" thrust and is therefore entitled likewise. In Filipino language and short as it is, it's a straightforward song that has a straightforward point: "Halika na sa health center, para komplikasyon ay maiwasan; panganganak mo'y sigurado, panganganak mo'y protektado!" as a part of the song goes.
So far, there are already a few women who find the song effective. Adelfa Bustamante, one of the local residents in Eastern Visayas who heard the jingle during its initial launch, was relieved that DOH finally worked on such a project.
As a woman who is also expecting, Bustamante said she found the song encouraging, and in fact believes that it "doesn't just give useful information to pregnant women, but also to those who are planning to have a child." She further commented that this is important, because she has personally noticed the difference in the pregnant women who don't go to the center. "They all look weaker, thinner and less-nourished overall." she said.
Ultimately, Kuh and Isabella Ledesma did a very skillful rendition of the song. As though they were fully aware that their performance can make or break the Department of Health's endeavor, as well as the future of safe motherhood in the country, the mother and daughter tandem sang the jingle with a lot of pride and, more importantly, with a lot of heart.
The jingle can be downloaded from this page in the Department of Health website.