PH unlikely to reach MDG goal on maternal mortality
The Philippines is unlikely to reach its target to reduce maternal mortality to less than three deaths a day under the Millennium Development Goals by the end of 2015, according to Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF).
The ZFF nonprofit has teamed up with more than 70 poor local government units and the Department of Health since 2009 to train mayors and municipal health officers to improve and transform local health systems in a bid to help the country achieve its MDG commitments.
The MDG target on maternal mortality for the Philippines has been pegged at 52 women per 100,000 live births by the end of the year.
But National Economic and Development Authority statistics showed that in 2011, 221 women out of 100,000 live births died due to complications of pregnancy. In 2006, the number was at 162 women out of 100,000 live births.
“The reduction tends to be slow or almost insignificant to the point that the trend is plateauing. We have yet to gather recent data but if we base it on the figures in 2011, it is unlikely we will achieve the goal by the end of the year,” ZFF director Bien Nillos told a recent press briefing.
ZFF president Ernesto Garilao, a former agrarian reform secretary, described the problem of maternal deaths as a “wicked” and “complex” challenge that was interconnected with the other issues plaguing the country.
“Improving maternal mortality involves a complex system that you have to get different stakeholders in…it’s like a ship that has many holes in it,” he said.
Garilao said the problem was also linked to poverty, the lack of education, traditional beliefs, infrastructure and peace and security.
He also underscored the importance of family planning in bringing down the number of deaths of mothers during pregnancy. “They can never really bring it down unless we make available family planning services to households,” said Garilao.
But ZFF’s “Community Health Partnership Program” has proven that even the poorest and geographically disadvantaged areas can achieve zero maternal deaths as long as local officials are committed.
Through the program, mayors and municipal health officers, along with their community leaders, transformed their local health systems through intensified implementation of existing DOH programs and creative means to deliver health services.
In Balindong, Lanao del Sur, the local government was able to achieve zero maternal deaths for three consecutive years and improve facility-based delivery by making immunization a must among all infants and children through a resolution, which also enabled local health officials to track down pregnant mothers.
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