PLCPD POLICY BRIEF
Philippine Government Policies in Reducing Maternal Mortality
This situation leads to more pregnancies anddeliveries among Filipino women. And yet, anoverwhelming majority of Filipinos (92%) believethat it is important to manage fertility and plantheir family, and most (89 percent) say that thegovernment should provide budgetary support for
modern articial methods of FP, including the pill,
intra-uterine devices (IUDs), condoms, ligation,and vasectomy, based on a 2007 survey on FPin the Philippines conducted by Pulse Asia.
Inanother survey, the majority (55%) of respondentssaid that they are willing to pay for the FP methodof their choice.
These survey results prove that Filipino womenlack RH care, including information on, and accessto, FP methods of their choice. Births that are toofrequent and spaced too closely take a debilitatingtoll on their health, so that many of them dieduring pregnancy or at childbirth. Some of them,despairing over yet another pregnancy, seek anabortion, from which they also die and along withthem, their unborn child. Based on another studyconducted by the Allan Guttmacher Institute in2006, of the three million annual pregnancies inthe country, half were unplanned and one-third of these end in abortions.
Causes and prevention of maternal deaths
The Philippine government’s MDG progressreport states that 1 in 100 women die as a resultof “maternal causes,” and that maternal deathsaccounted for about 14 percent of all deathsamong women of reproductive age (15–49).
The underlying causes for the situation are: (1)inadequate capacity of the health/medical facilityto provide quality emergency obstetric care(EmOC) services in terms of human resource,skills, equipment, and medicine; and nonfunctionalreferral system for referring high-risk pregnancies.Lack of awareness on the part of mothers to seektimely medical care and preference of mothersto conduct deliveries at their homes are alsocontributing factors.As revealed by the State of Filipino Mothers 2008report by Save the Children, not only do Filipinomothers die because of biomedical causesand risk factors, they also lack access to bothlifesaving care and quality maternal/reproductivehealth care.
According to the report, these arethe reasons why Filipino mothers die:1. limited access to health facilities andquality maternal care;2. lack of access to a full-range of reproductivehealth care, including family planninginformation and services;3. unplanned pregnancies leading to inducedabortion, and consequently, maternaldeaths;4. lack of political will to provide maternalhealth services;5. lack of a reproductive health law thatwould require appropriate funds to ensurefull access to quality RH information andservices that include maternal health andfamily planning.The dangers of childbearing can be greatlyreduced if a woman is healthy and well-nourishedbefore becoming pregnant, if she has a healthcheckup by a trained health worker during her pregnancy, and if a skilled birth attendant assiststhe birth. The woman should also be checkedduring the 12 hours after delivery until six weeksafter giving birth. The government has a particular responsibility to make prenatal and postnatalservices available, to train health workers toassists at birth, and to provide special care andreferral services for women who have seriousproblems during pregnancy and childbirth.
Unmet need and short birth intervals
Research from developing countries revealedthat unhealthy timing or spacing of pregnanciesis linked to increased risk of multiple adversehealth outcomes.
Following a pregnancy thatoccurred quickly after a previous birth, the risk of a child dying is at least twice as high as that for longer intervals. A recent study of Filipino women’scontraceptive needs revealed that one-third of women at risk did not want to become pregnantwithin the next two years, while the remaining two-thirds did not want any more children.
Comparedto women who want to end childbearing, women