WHO: Phl may not meet MDG on maternal deaths by 2015
Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) - October 24, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -More Filipino women will have access to healthcare in the next few years, yet many will still die due to complications of childbirth, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Dr. Julie Hall, WHO representative in the Philippines, said on Tuesday that Filipinos’ access to healthcare is expected to improve within three years as a result of the government’s universal healthcare program.

“PhilHealth coverage, particularly among the poor, will ensure Filipino women’s access to maternity services, so we hope for better progress on the efforts to reduce maternal deaths in the next two to three years,” Hall said.

However, Hall said the Philippines is still unlikely to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to significantly reduce maternal deaths by 2015.

“The Philippines made insufficient progress and thus unlikely to meet the target,” Hall said, taking note that 13 Filipinos die daily as a result of childbirth.

According to Hall, the Philippines made significant progress in reducing infant mortality rate, but failed to make any improvement in pulling down the number of maternal deaths for the past years.

“In terms of child mortality, the Philippines is on track to meet the MDG by 2015, but it is struggling in reducing maternal deaths. Thirteen women dying daily due to childbirth is really a tragedy,” she said.

Dr. Shin Young Soo, WHO regional director for the Western-Pacific, said while most member-countries in the region succeeded in reducing maternal deaths, it remains a health problem in the Philippines.

“In the Philippines, maternal deaths are not going down, (they are) even going higher and this is unbelievable,” Shin said.

Results of a National Statistics Office (NSO) survey show an alarming increase in the number of deaths due to childbirth complications to 221 per 100,000 childbirths in 2010 from 162 in 2006.

As part of the MDG, the Philippines hopes to reduce maternal deaths to 54 by 2016.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona earlier had said that maternal deaths are highly preventable through effective family planning health services, antenatal care, and access to health facilities.

Shin said the WHO is strongly supporting moves for the Reproductive Health Law to enable the Philippines to significantly reduce maternal deaths.

“Education is an important determinant to reduce maternal deaths, particularly among teenage mothers so we simply hope the RH Law will be implemented as soon as possible,” he said.

DEATHS DR. JULIE HALL DR. SHIN YOUNG SOO HEALTH SECRETARY ENRIQUE ONA IN THE PHILIPPINES MATERNAL MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOAL MORE FILIPINO NATIONAL STATISTICS OFFICE PHILIPPINES
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