In a country where people enjoy having children, giving birth to them has risks in the Philippines particularly if you are in the provinces. This is another opportunity to bring better health and medical services to these areas to reduce this risk.
From BusinessWorld Philippines
February 12, 2012
Maternal mortality still an issue: UN
THE UNITED Nations (UN) urged more local government initiatives to reduce the country’s maternal mortality ratio, citing as an example a birth clinic project in a Mindanao.
On Friday, the UN identified a maternal health program in Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat as one of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) champion projects for providing pregnant women with regular medical checkups and assistance in treatment and child delivery.
Other projects noted were an organic fertilizer program in Llanera, Nueva Ecija and a mung bean promotion project in San Mateo, Isabela.
In an interview on the sidelines of the event, UN resident coordinator Jacqueline Badcock said the country is “struggling” in achieving the MDG of reducing the maternal mortality ratio by three-fourths in 2015 from its 1990 level.
The UN Development Program (UNDP) said in its latest MDG Progress Report in 2010 that while maternal mortality ratio has been on the decline since 1993, “the rate of change is relatively low.”
“This might be attributed to the fact that a significant proportion of births were still delivered at home and attended to, not by skilled health professionals but, by the so-called hilots, especially in areas where health facilities with services of skilled health professionals are inaccessible,” the UNDP said in its report.
Ms. Badcock said local initiatives similar to the Sultan Kudarat maternal health clinics may be the “biggest factor in reducing maternal mortality.”
“If more municipalities would support women to give birth safely, I think we could do a lot to bring down the maternal mortality rate,” she said.
Asked about the possible contribution of the reproductive health bill pending in Congress, Ms. Badcock said: “The important part about the legislation is the extra support it will give to mothers giving birth. That’s the main issue for the UN. We want mothers to give birth in safe environments.”
Ms. Badcock, however, was upbeat about the country’s progress in achieving other MDGs.
“[There has been] quite a lot of good work on child mortality rates coming down. There have been progress on the gender markers, some movement on poverty… and there’s a lot of effort going into education,” Ms. Badcock told BusinessWorld.
The MDGs are areas for development for which the international community has set 2015 as a deadline. These include poverty and hunger, universal primary education, gender equality, child mortality, maternal health, HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, environmental sustainability and global partnerships for development.
Sophie De Caen, executive director of the MDG Achievement Fund Secretariat said: “The Philippines is advancing well on child mortality and access to sanitation and water but there is still a lot of work to be done on the education front and on poverty reduction.”
Ms. De Caen added that she hopes the MDG Achievement Fund programs will help address some of the problems, “particularly those that are resulting in increased employment.”
“[I] really think the MDG [Achievement Fund] is here to be an incentive and to give the seed funding for these various joint programs and then for those to be replicated either by the government or with the help of the other donors that are here,” Ms. De Caen said, adding that the aid is set to close in 2013.
The fund, provided by the Spanish government in 2006, provides over $23 million to four MDG programs in the country: youth, migration and employment; access to water; food security and nutrition for children; and climate change adaptation.
Meanwhile, President Benigno S. C. Aquino III said the government is exerting more effort on poverty reduction, education and maternal health, citing as an example the increase in the budget for the Conditional Cash Transfer program.
“This means that more Filipino children will attend school, that more children and expecting mothers will receive regular medical checkups, and ultimately, that more families will receive cash grants to help them with their everyday expenses,” Mr. Aquino said in a speech read by Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cayetano W. Paderanga, Jr.
The Basic Education Sector Reform Agenda and the Universal Health Care program, both under the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016, are also expected to contribute to MDG achievement. — Kim Arveen M. Patria