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MANILA, Philippines - Health Secretary Enrique Ona Monday called for the immediate passage of the Reproductive Health Bill to help arrest a rising maternal mortality rate in the country.
Ona made the call during budget deliberations for the Department of Health's proposed 2013 program before the House Committee on Appropriations.
Citing official DOH figures, he said the country's maternal mortality rate for 2011 is 221 for every 100,000 live births – as compared to just 162 in 2009.
He said the P2.5 billion set aside by the DOH for family planning and responsible parenthood programs is not enough to address the reproductive health problems of the country.
“We have had limited progress in dealing with maternal deaths for the past 10 years. We need legislation that will mandate the provision of modern family planning practices to those who need them but are unable to acquire on their own,” Ona said.
The RH bill, also known as House Bill 4244, endorses the use of both natural and artificial modes of family planning.
It also provides for health care services and increased public awareness on reproductive health, particularly to the poor and needy.
It has been identified by President Benigno Aquino III as one of his priority legislations.
The measure is now in the period of amendments after the House voted to end debates on the contentious bill last week. "Maternal death is highly preventable and reducing the number of maternal deaths requires this critical legislation," Ona said.