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MANILA, Philippines - The failure of the Philippines to reduce maternal mortality in over a decade despite its commitment to the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals (MDG), all the more justifies the immediate passage of the Reproductive Health Bill, according to Sen. Pilar Juliana "Pia" Cayetano.
“The country’s high Maternal Mortality rate (MMR) as shown in the findings of the 2011 Family Health Survey once more underscores the urgency to pass the RH Bill,” Cayetano, principal sponsor of Senate Bill 2865, the Senate’s version of the proposed measure, said on Tuesday.
She said that during the past decade that the bill has been stalled in Congress, MMR has not declined and has in fact increased to 221 deaths per 100,000 live births from 162 deaths from the period 2000-2005.
Cayetano is chairperson of the Senate committees on Health and Demography, and on Youth, Women and Family Relations.
Also, the Department of Health (DOH), which has been working to lower the MMR to 54 per 100,000 live births, admitted its failure.
"This is a challenge for us," DOH Secretary Enrique said recently. "Despite efforts, our interventions to lower maternal deaths have no progress because the numbers haven't changed," Ona told reporters.
The latest figures are way off the country’s target to reduce MMR to 52 by the year 2015 under the MDG.
“Facts don’t lie and it would be sheer hypocrisy not to acknowledge the grim situation faced by Filipino mothers," said Cayetano.
The senator said that President Benigno Aquino III's endorsement would give momentum to the bill’s passage. “I hope the President will reiterate his support for the RH Bill in his coming State of the Nation Address to ensure its passage by August after Congress resumes session.”
The RH Bill has already hurdled the period of debates in the Senate and will proceed to the period of amendment at the resumption of session.
The measure is still in the period of interpellation at the House of Representatives.