Thursday, February 13, 2014

Association of MCH Programs holds annual conference: Affordable Care Act impacts MCH Program in Micronesia

Note: FSMIS expresses appreciation to Dr. Yomai, Child Health Physician for the FSM Dept. of Health and social Affairs, for providing the trip report that forms the news release below.

FSMIS (February 13, 2014): The Association of Maternal and Child Health Program (AMCHP) works to improve the health of women, children, youths and families at both the state and national levels. Every year, AMCHP assembles partners and service providers for Maternal and Child Health Program from across the Continental United States and its affiliated countries in the Pacific Rim. This is a once-a-year opportunity to come together and learn new skills, hear about new development in our field of work, and gather tools and information that will benefit our daily work in each of our respective country settings. With circumstances and issues during this era of economic challenge and health system change, 2014 is a year that can overwhelm and energize or incapacitate and motivate us in terms of “budget cut and reform”.
This year, the AMCHP annual conference co-located with the annual meetings for the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN), the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), the Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH), and the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities Programs (LEND). Included in the activities of this conference, AMCHP offered both professional coaching and job fair. These additional activities were made to give members the opportunities to explore other career development opportunities and a reflection on one’s career path and consider change one may desire.
FSM participants at this conference attended sessions that are relevant to their line of works, seizing the opportunity to meet with pacific island participants, consultants from National Safety Network and the Center for Disease Prevention and Control.  Almost all of the participants from the Freely Associated States commonly shared that there is no clearly defined, independent program specifically mandated for “child protection” in their jurisdictions. They showed, however, that child protection activities are being addressed and carried out under other related program such as MCH, Immunization, CSHCN, and others. FSM participants also spoke on the same challenging issues regarding child injury and safety.
A lunch meeting was set up for the attending members of Region IX to meet with Dr. Micheal Lu, Associate Director of Maternal and Child Health Bureau, to discuss details regarding the “Affordable Care Act” and its consequences on the Freely Associated States. In general, the Affordable Care Act  resulted in budget-cut to the overall MCH Block Grant. Given the deep cuts, some grants have been created outside the MCH Block Grant to supplement MCH programs and activities. However,  the Freely Associated States are not eligible for the use of these “new grants”. Dr. Lu spoke about the limitations and constraints imposed upon the program. In this regard, he expressed his commitment to work on ensuring that other funding grants can have some flexibility to accommodate the needs of the MCH programs throughout the FAS to maintain continuity of care.
The conference took place on January 23 to 30, 2014 in Washington D.C.
Participants from the FSM included Dr. Anamaria Akapito Yomai, Child Health Physician for the FSM Department of Health and Social Affairs. Dr. Yomai is stationed at the Chuuk Public Health,  Chuuk State Department of Health Services; Mr. Dionis Saimon, Chief of Family Health Programs, based at the FSM Dept. of Health Office in Palikir; and Mr. Stanley Mickey, assistant to Mr. Dionis and also the Family Planning Coordinator, based at the FSM Dept. of Health Palikir Office.

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