Advocates of reproductive health on Tuesday claimed the country has failed to lower the number of maternal deaths, even as they appealed for a closer collaboration among private and government stakeholders to address the problem as a key issue in the population and development discourses.
At the same time, Benjamin de Leon, president of the Forum for Family Planning and Development, Inc. (The Forum), said that the failure of the government to deliver on its international commitments has led results impacting on women health in the country.
“Time is essential, but it’s not on our side. Fifteen years have passed since the Philippines, along with 179 countries, agreed to reduce to a set minimum the number of maternal and infant deaths that are largely preventable. But the country is barely making progress," De Leon said.
Based on the National Statistic Office-National Demographic and Health Survey (NSO-DHS), some 11 women die each day from pregnancy and birth complication while thousands of newly born children die before their first birthday.
De Leon said that all advocates and stakeholders must triple practical efforts to prevent further untimely deaths of women in their reproductive age-stretch of the International Conference on Population and Development’s (ICPD) 20-year plan of action.
“Yet, the country is barely making progress in reducing maternal death ratio from 209 per 100,000 live births in 1993, to 172 in 1998 and to the most recent figure of 162 in 2006. The country’s target is to achieve a minimum mortality rate of 52 or lower by 2015," he added.
To create big strides toward the end goal, The Forum, together with its partners, appealed for more vibrant collaboration among advocates and stakeholders in sharing resources and doing urgent actions to carry the ICPD agenda forward.
The consensus document on population and development issues that the UN member-states signed in Cairo, 15 years ago clearly states: If needs for family planning and reproductive health care are met along with other basic services, then population stabilization happens naturally.
In 1994, the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, Egypt, formulated a 20-year Plan of Action, to which the United Nations member-states, including the Philippines, made commitments.
“As if it was not enough, in 2000, 189 countries (again, including the Philippines) adopted the eight Millennium Development Goals (MGD) of which, Goal 5 sets the target for the reduction of maternal deaths and universal access to reproductive health," De Leon said.
Reacting to claims by advocates of reproductive health, Commission on Population executive director Tomas Osias said that “the government may be lagging behind its target in reducing maternal deaths, but it is doing extra efforts to catch up."
“For maternal and infant mortality, the government has initiated the so-called maternal and newborn-child health and nutrition program," he said.
According to him, as far the goal of reducing maternal deaths to 52 per 100,000 live births by 2015 is concerned, the government may be able halve the 162 deaths in 2007 by then.
As with the population control, Osias said, “the government is making progress. In 2000, population growth rate was at 2.36, but in 2007 we have reduced it to 2.04," he added.
“We may not be able to hit the target by 2015, but present efforts indicate that we will be able to achieve something just a little below the target mark," Osias said. - LBG, GMANews.TV