On Mother's Day, UNFPA Philippines calls for accessible healthcare for Filipino moms

On Mother's Day, UNFPA Philippines calls for accessible healthcare for Filipino moms
This February 2021 photo shows a pregnant woman.
AFP / John Moore

MANILA, Philippines — As Filipino families celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday, the United Nations Population Fund Philippines stressed the need for accessible health care for mothers to prevent maternal deaths that saw a rise in recent years.

In a statement, Dr. Leila Saiji Joudane, country representative of the United Nations Population Fund Philippines, said: “With adequate support from health providers, family and society, giving birth should be a very fulfilling and positive experience for mothers.”

“This Mother’s Day, let us uphold the right of all people — especially mothers — to reach the highest possible standard of health. Timely health care for pregnant women can make the difference between life and death. No woman should die giving life,” she said.

Rise in maternal deaths

The UNFPA official noted that a significant number of women do not get the support they need, with some not even receiving crucial medical assistance.

Joudane said that based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, around six to seven Filipino women are dying daily due to childbirth.

“In the Philippines, we noticed an increase of maternal deaths during the past two years: in 2019, 1,458 women died of maternal causes; this number increased to 2,478 in 2021,” Joudane said.

In cases of emergency, disruption to access to maternal health services may result in more women dying during pregnancy and childbirth, she continued.

“Women die because sexual and reproductive health services are unavailable, inaccessible, unaffordable or of poor quality. Human resources are also scarce. There are not enough trained health care workers that provide quality sexual and reproductive health information and services,” she added.

In the Philippines, 14% of pregnant women also do not get regular check-ups and necessary medical care, while one in 10 women do not give birth in health facilities or get assistance from healthcare personnel during childbirth, Joudane said.

Many of maternal deaths, caused by complications in pregnancy, childbirth and puerperium, eclampsia, pre-eclampsia, and hemorrhage, are also preventable if there are “accessible proper medical interventions and adequate health-care systems that are also resilient to emergencies,” the UNFPA official added.

Joudane identified gender inequality, as with many other issues, as the root of preventable maternal mortality. It makes “pregnancy a dangerous endeavor, one which hundreds of thousands of women do not survive,” she added.

“Gender inequality is what keeps women out of the workforce and schools, vulnerable to conflict and violence, and denies them the right to make decisions about their own bodies and health,” she continued.

Joudane then expressed support to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Philippines’ commitment to achieving universal health coverage and universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reducing to zero preventable maternal death. — Kristine Joy Patag

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