Philippines Must Reduce High Maternal Mortality Rate, UNICEF Representative Says
The UNICEF representative in the Philippines Vanessa Tobin on Friday called on the country to reduce its high rate of maternal mortality and women's health complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, AFP/Google.com reports. Tobin was visiting a hospital in Manila, Philippines (AFP/Google.com, 5/15).
The lifetime risk of maternal death in the Philippines is 1 in every 140, according to UNICEF's State of the World's Children 2009 report. Each day, about 11 Filipino mothers or 4,500 each year die because of hypertensive disorders, severe hemorrhage or other labor- or abortion-related problems. The country is also part of a group of 68 countries where 97% of worldwide maternal, neonatal and child health deaths occur.
"We need to understand why despite the available health care services for them, many of our pregnant women choose to deliver without the proper care of skilled health workers," Tobin said. "A huge effort is needed to improve public reproductive and maternal health services and educate mothers, that is why UNICEF seeks involvement through partnering with government and non-government actors, as well as other U.N. agencies in building capacities and upgrading facilities to serve pregnant women and newborn babies," she said (Francisco, GMANews.TV, 5/16).
The Manila Bulletin reports Francisco Duque III, the health department's secretary, recently signed a memorandum mandating that several government agencies support the implementation of the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Care and Nutrition program, which aims to strengthen facility-based services for pregnancy and childbirth by providing local governments with a strategy for implementation and strengthening public-private partnerships.
In addition, the Australian Agency for International Development said it will donate more than $4 million to fund a maternal and newborn survival program, which is supported by UNICEF, UNPF and the WHO. The program supports the government strategy to reduce maternal deaths and related goals by 2015. Tobin said that this U.N. Millennium Development Goal is "least likely to be achieved by the Philippines" by the target date of 2015 (Manongdo, Manila Bulletin, 5/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.