“Every child has a right to survive, and the government has the obligation to do all it can to support parents and guardians in providing healthcare and nutrition, particularly access to breastmilk, so children will not die of preventable causes.”
This was the message of Atty. Alberto Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines, regarding the untimely death of three-month old baby River after she was separated from her jailed mother, Reina Mae Nasino.
River succumbed to pneumonia and complications from diarrhea on October 9, 2020. The baby was separated from her mother on August 13, since Nasino is currently undergoing trial for non-bailable charges over alleged illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Even if Nasino was jailed, Muyot said that she still deserved to be with her baby.
“Baby River was reportedly born underweight and has weak lungs. She has the right to get access to proper health and nutrition, including breastmilk, even if her mother is a person deprived of civil liberty,” said Muyot.
He cited R.A. 11148, the “Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act,” which provides that life-saving healthcare, services, and resources should be given to pregnant and lactating mothers and newborn babies because these will fulfill the rights of every child to health and survival, protection, and development.
R.A. 11148, the “First 1,000 Days Law,” guarantees the right of every child to access exclusive breastfeeding during the first hour of birth up to six months, and continuous breastfeeding up to two years.
Had baby River been allowed to remain under her mother’s care, Dr. Amado Parawan, Health and Nutrition Advisor of Save the Children Philippines, said that she would have had a better chance to live.
River’s death could have been prevented through early recognition of the signs and symptoms of acute respiratory distress syndrome such as fever, cough, and difficulty in breathing.
With continuous breastfeeding, baby River’s body would have been better equipped to fight these things.
“Breast Milk is considered as the first vaccine for babies since it provides many antibodies against diseases,” said Parawan.
“Babies should not be separated from their mothers so that breastfeeding will be initiated early and for exclusive breastfeeding to be successful. This is the reason why rooming-in is encouraged and skin-to-skin is promoted under the Unang Yakap program of the Department of Health.”