MANILA, Philippines?Eleven Filipino women die in childbirth every day due to poor health care, according to the latest United Nations Children's Fund study on risks faced by pregnant women and newborn babies.
Newborn child mortality also remains high in the Philippines, with half of the deaths of children below five years old occurring during infancy, said Unicef.
The Philippines is among the 68 developing nations where 97 per cent of maternal, newborn and child deaths worldwide occur.
"Around 11 Filipino mothers die every day or an estimated 4,500 every year due to severe hemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, sepsis and problems related to obstructed labor and abortion," said Unicef's State of the World's Children report for 2009.
"In the Philippines, the lifetime risk of maternal death is one in 140. About half of the deaths of Filipino children under five happen in the first 28 days of life," it added.
Both mothers and their infants are vulnerable in the days after birth, so post-natal visits, proper hygiene and health counseling are critical interventions.
Unicef said the risks faced by pregnant women and their newborn babies remain high among least developed nations in Asia and Africa, where pregnant women are 300 times more likely to die in childbirth or from complications than women in developed countries.
A child born in a developing country is almost 14 times more likely to die during the first month of life than a child born in a developed one.
Unicef commended many developing countries for making "excellent progress" in improving their child survival rates in recent years.
But it said there has been less headway in reducing maternal mortality in the last 17 years.
In developing countries, a woman has a 1-in-76 lifetime risk of maternal death, compared with a probability of 1 in 8,000 for women in developed countries. In the Philippines, the lifetime risk of maternal death is 1 in 140.
Unicef said majority of deaths from pregnancy and complications occur in Africa and Asia due to high fertility rates, shortage of trained personnel and weak health systems.
Unicef said the millennium development goal of improving maternal health is one of the goals "least likely to be achieved by the Philippines by 2015."
"A huge effort is needed to improve public reproductive and maternal health services and educate mothers," said Unicef country representative Vanessa Tobin.
Among the recommended interventions are increasing the coverage of births supervised by midwives and skilled health professionals, as well as providing essential lifesaving care for mother and newborn before, during or after birth in emergency obstetric care facilities.
Unicef also said it was essential to increase women's access to the prevention of unwanted pregnancies through quality reproductive health services.
It is also important to improve their nutritional status and prevent iron and folate deficiencies, Unicef added.
"Saving the lives of mothers and their newborns requires more than just medical intervention. Educating girls is pivotal to improving maternal and neonatal health and also benefits families and societies," it said.