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ARMM has lowest infant mortality rate

/ 11:55 AM July 19, 2012

Lanao del Sur Assemblywoman Samira Gutoc-Tomawis (far left in a shiny fuschia upper garment) sharing stories with her constituents. FACEBOOK PHOTO

COTABATO CITY, Philippines—The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao had the lowest infant mortality rate among the Philippines’ various regions at 18 per 1,000 live births in 2011, the regional health secretary said here Wednesday.

Citing the results of the 2011 Family Health Survey conducted by the National Statistics Office, which was made public only recently, ARMM Health Secretary Kadil Sinolinding said in a statement that the region’s infant mortality rate was even lower than the national average.

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Sinolinding said this achievement was made possible by an intensified advocacy campaign among predominantly Muslim communities on the relevance of family planning during the past three years.

He said the campaign included improved maternal and child services; intensified interventions, especially on the third stage of labor among pregnant women done only in the region; post-natal care; immunization; and exclusive breastfeeding “vertically implemented from hospitals to barangay health stations.”

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Sinolinding said these efforts were made possible through the assistance of health partners, such as Philhealth, the US Agency for International Development and local government units.

He said Muslim religious leaders also helped by educating people and by issuing favorable fatwahs or edicts on the ARMM’s health care programs.

Sinolinding said with these efforts, the region’s health department an infant mortality rate of 15 by 2015, lower than the international target of 19 specified in the United Nations Millenium Development Goals.

The ARMM is composed of the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, which are among the country’s poorest, not because of lack of resources but due to peace and order problems that affect economic activity.

Samira Gutoc-Tomawis, who represents women in the ARMM’s Regional Legislative Assembly, said “lowering infant mortality is not the end of the battle for us.”

She said that with concerted efforts, the infant mortality rate in the region could be reduced further.

“(Infant) mortality rate is still high and must still be addressed with a reproductive health care bill that prioritizes the mother’s health and access of women to RH services,” Tomawis said.

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Assemblywoman Irene Tillah of Sulu, who chairs the RLA’s committee on health and social services, said her committee plans to pass a regional legislative act on reproductive health.

With a report from Bobby Lagsa, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: ARMM, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Family Health Survey, infant mortality rate, Samira Gutoc-Tomawis
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