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Saturday, September 29, 2007

WHO alarmed at RP's pregnancy-related deaths

by Ferdinand Fabella / Manila Standard Today / 25 September

The World Health Organization bared that pregnancy-related and neonatal deaths in the Philippines remained high despite various government health programs.

WHO medical officer Dr. Howard Sobel said about 529,000 women die from birth-related causes, leaving one million children motherless and vulnerable.

"In the Philippines, about 10 mothers a day die in childbirth, with almost 30 very young children being orphaned or having difficulty surviving every day. In fact, the country is one of the 42 countries that accounted for 95 percent of global under-five mortality," he said.

Sobel said that 50 percent of infants die in the first two days of life, due to "non-skilled attended births" and by delays in the start of breastfeeding among mothers.

He also said that four out of five maternal deaths are the direct result of obstetric complications making maternal mortality highest during labor and the two days following birth.

More than 10 million women suffer severe or long-lasting illnesses or disabilities, from obstetric fistula to infertility, depression and impoverishment caused by complications of pregnancy or childbirth.

Of which, most are girls aged 15 to 20, with complications of pregnancy or childbearing representing theleading cause of mortality.

"Hypertensive disorders, followed by postpartum hemorrhage and pregnancy with abortive outcomes are the top causes of maternal death in the Philippines," Sobel said.

The WHO representative said they are doing their best to help in the implementation and policy making with the government to address the matter and give grant or donation to specific maternal health programs to the private sector.

ECOP, for its part, launched yesterday the Recognition for Best Workplace Reproductive Health Policies and Programs in partnership with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The program intends to give women workers incentives and other amenities to make them more productive and healthy, ECOP Director General Vicente Leogardo, Jr., said.

He said various employers wanted to confront the problem on reproductive health because its scope is national and complex in nature, thus they have to come up with doable solutions that can be implemented at the workplace.

Leogardo said ECOP, in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund, has been able to engage 20 subscriber-companies to implement an in-plant reproductive health program and services.