The online news portal of TV5
Reports about the rise in maternal death should prompt Congress to pass the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said.
Lagman, one of the measure's principal authors, said it was “truly appalling” that lawmakers have failed to do what needs to be done to avert unnecessary deaths of mothers giving birth.
“The solution to these problems does not involve rocket science nor does it entail enormous amounts of government resources,” he added.
Lagman made the statement in the wake of the 2011 Family Health Survey of the National Statistics Office that revealed the rise in maternal mortality from 162 deaths for every 100,000 live births in 2006 to 221 deaths in 2011.
“The considerable increase in maternal deaths has elevated the problem of maternal mortality to both a public health concern and a social justice issue. This tragedy falls squarely under health and human rights issues for it is a clear violation of the right to health and life of mothers,” he said. “What is truly appalling is that we know what we need to do to prevent maternal mortality and yet we have not done enough to avert more unnecessary deaths."
Lagman proposed that the government can help save women’s lives by ensuring the following:
(1) widespread access to contraception and family planning information to avoid unintended and high risk pregnancies;
(2) regular pre-natal check-ups;
(3) skilled attendance during delivery and adequate postpartum care; and
(4) timely and quality obstetric services in emergency cases.
All these are provided for in the RH bills pending before the House of Representatives and the Senate, he said.
“Studies by the WHO, UNDP and UNFPA confirm that correct and consistent use of contraceptives will prevent one-third of all maternal deaths,” Lagman said, adding that this would help women who are at a higher risk of maternal death avoid unplanned pregnancies.
He added that effective contraception leads to better birth spacing which translates to longer intervals between pregnancies; fewer births to very young or older women; and reduces the chances of malnutrition in mothers and therefore contributes to their overall well-being and the health of their children.
The Philippines has committed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 and among these goals is the improvement of maternal health.
The MDGs have recently been amended to include universal access to family planning and reproductive health, which underscores the importance of family planning in achieving MDG goals 4 and 5 on reducing infant mortality and improving maternal health.
"The unsatisfactory progress on reducing maternal mortality reflects not only the low importance placed on saving women’s lives but also the urgency of enacting a truly responsive national statute on reproductive health which will not only promote the basic human right to plan one’s family but also the right to health and sustainable human development,” Lagman said.