PopCom sees higher maternal mortality
According to PopCom executive director Juan Antonio Perez III, pregnant women could be part of the “collateral damage” of this health crisis.
AFP/John Moore

PopCom sees higher maternal mortality

Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) - May 5, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Population (PopCom) has reported an increase in maternal deaths in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to PopCom executive director Juan Antonio Perez III, pregnant women could be part of the “collateral damage” of this health crisis.

Based on reports received by PopCom, Perez said maternal deaths in Metro Manila, Cebu and Zamboanga are rising.

“But these are still scattered reports from areas where there was high incidence of COVID-19. So there is collateral effect of COVID in terms of mothers not getting the higher level of care at the right time,” he pointed out.

Perez cited instances wherein some pregnant women had to be referred from one hospital to another in search of facilities where they can give birth.

He said some hospitals would advise pregnant women to give birth in lying-in centers or lower-level hospitals.

According to Perez, there are complicated pregnancies that require a higher level of care.

“They’re not really COVID-19 patients. COVID isn’t their problem, they need higher level of care so maybe that is what’s missing and they become collateral damage,” he said.

Perez said an analysis made by the University of the Philippines projected that the country’s maternal deaths this year could increase to 1,000.

He said the pandemic’s effect on the population is expected to be seen between August and September this year.

PopCom also noted an increase in teenage pregnancies in Baguio and Zamboanga in the first quarter of 2021.

“The numbers are not that high, but there was an increase in teen pregnancies,” Perez said.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed a slight drop in the number of recorded births from 1.6 million in 2019 to over a million in September last year.

“Because of the delays in reporting the backlog was of course added in the last quarter. But we expect around 1.4 million to 1.5 million births last year and that will be lower I think than expected,” Perez said.

“Our population numbers were not that high last year. But we are still not yet seeing the pandemic effect this 2021,” he added.

To curb the projected rise in population, PopCom is pushing for the distribution of contraceptives in community pantries nationwide.

PopCom also urged local government units to conduct house-to-house distribution of condoms and birth control pills.

Perez said PopCom and other government agencies also recommended to President Duterte the deployment of additional personnel to implement family planning programs.

There are seven million users of family planning methods nationwide, PopCom said.

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