With a high maternal mortality rate and other causes of increased female morbidity, the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society, Inc. or POGS levels up with its public awareness programs to equip and empower the female population in the country of the needed knowledge to deal with their reproductive health and other medical issues
By Baby Ann Melinda Velonta
For years, the Philippines has been plagued with the highly stigmatized issue of unintended pregnancy, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases and to top it all, the lack of access and even unavailability of quality reproductive health services for women.
According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the risk of death relating to complications in pregnancy and childbirth in the Philippines is 1 in 140. Moreover, an estimated 4,500 women die every year because of it.
Tragic as it is, this piece of factual information is not as surprising considering the slow but, nonetheless, continuous shift from traditional perception of reproductive health issues to modern medical belief.
The challenge of meeting reproductive health professionals with concerns about sexual diseases, unwanted pregnancies, abortion and the like remains high. This is due to the shame and mortification brought about by the societal stigma that it is not fitting for a woman to talk about sensitive reproductive issues openly and that people suffering from sexual complications are being immoral, lest not being morally upright.
Thus, the stigma forces women to silently deal with their problems through seeking help from attendants with inadequate knowledge and skills or what we locally refer to as hilots or quack doctors.
Overcoming the stigma
Since its founding in 1946, the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society (Foundation Inc.) or POGS strived to make way for better awareness about the issue of reproductive health and the importance of how to properly address it.
A globally-acclaimed medical society composed of highly competent, constantly-trained obstetricians and gynecologists , POGS aim to provide the standard quality of women’s healthcare through constant training and education of health care providers and increasing reproductive health awareness by facilitating advocacy programs.
POGS envisions a trusted, premier organization composed of highly competent, compassionate, God-loving obstetrician-gynecologists upholding the highest ethical standards of practice in providing excellent health care.
The face of the fight
POGS’ first logo appeared in 1974 at the cover of a souvenir program. The symbol was a stork wading in the water and carrying a baby at its beak, referring to the fairy tale that storks are mythical creatures that deliver babies. This was indeed an apt symbolism for the specialty of obstetrics, which facilitates safe childbirth for mother and baby.
Because the idea of the stork delivering babies goes against the principles of science, the logo was deemed unacceptable and so a revision of the logo was made.
Following painter E.R. Tagle’s principle in positivism in Art, POGS finally decided on a circle within the stylized uterus, symbolizing the product of conception. The circle on the logo highlights the positive impact of the POGS to the whole nation—giving a new identity and image to POGS, as a Society that brings about positive change in the community and is well-aware and conscientious about its social obligation.
Dr. Honoraria Acosta Sison was the first President of POGS, from 1946-1948. Today, after 72 years, it is led by Dr. Elisa O. Tiu, M.D, as the 2018 President; Dr. Mario A. Bernardino, M.D, as the Vice-President; Dr. Christia S. Padolina, M.D. as the Board Secretary; Dr. Efren S. Domingo, M.D. as the Treasurer; and Dr. Anna Belen Ignacio-Alensuela, M.D as the Public Relations Officer.
The 2018 Board of Trustees consist of Ma. Virginia Santos-Abalos, M.D.; Pilar Lagman-Dy, M.D.; Betha Fe M. Castillo, M.D.; Melchor C. Dela Cruz, Jr., M.D.; Agnes Soriano-Estrella, M.D.; Milagros Tia-Jocson, M.D.; Ramon T. Reyles, M.D,; Helen Grace Te-Santos, M.D.; Judith M. Sison, M.D.; and Virgilio M. Novero., Jr. M.D.
Today, POGS is a leading advocate of women’s health thru its numerous projects both for the physician and the lay public.
For one, POGS will conduct its Philippine Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine 20th Annual Congress/ Post Graduate Course at Crowne Plaza, Manila Galleria on November 10, 2018 where a world class Maternal Fetal Specialist, author and researcher Dr. Vicenzo Berghella will share his insights on Maternal Fetal Medicine.
The POGS 2018 Annual Convention and 72nd Anniversary Celebration will happen this November 13-16, 2018 at the Philippine International Convention Center and will revolve around the theme “POGS Overcoming Women Health Issues through Empowerment and Responsibility (POWER)”. It is referred shortly as #pogspower2018 and is a born from last year’s theme “Renew, Restore and Revitalize”. This aims to empower woman and emphasize on responsibility in dealing with reproductive health issues and to prepare for next year’s Asia and Oceania Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Congress (AOFOG) which aligns with the theme.
Next year, POGS is set to hold the 26th Asia and Oceania Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Congress on November 10-14, 2019 with the theme “Strengthening the Road to Women’s Health… Reaching New Heights.”
The AOFOG was originally known as the Asian Division of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (Geneva) in 1954. In 1957, however, it was decided to be established as the Asian Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Inaugural Meeting in Tokyo. It was an autonomous body that later on sought affiliation with the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics. It’s main objective is to promote total neo-natal and women health care all while supporting international cooperation focusing in Asia and Oceania.
AOFOG holds congress and summit meetings in different countries which are part of Asia and Oceania and for November’s Congress, Philippines was chosen as host to thousands of foreign and local medical OB-Gynes attending the Manila congress.
POGS also caters to a wide range of local and international advocacy programs focused on raising standards in reproductive health care while raising reproductive health awareness.
‘POGS also caters to a wide range of local and international advocacy programs focused on raising standards in reproductive health care while raising reproductive health awareness’
Oct 2018 Health and Lifestyle