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Advocacy groups dismayed with Speaker Belmonte pronouncement on the RH Bill

Various groups are upset with the recent statement of House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. that the reproductive health (RH) bill won’t be passed before the State of the Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino this year.

Recent data shows that there are 11 Mothers dying daily from preventable maternal complications; increase of teenage pregnancy by 70% in the last decade; 313 new HIV cases for March 2012 alone and 560,000 unsafe abortion cases annually due to unintended pregnancies.

The Philippine NGO Council on Population, Health and Welfare (PNGOC) believes that delaying the passage of a national policy on RH can worsen the condition of various families especially women and children.

According to Dr. Eden Divinagracia, executive director of PNGOC, “Setting aside a bill that can help family address their RH needs which includes RH information and services is inappropriate and can further deprive them of a good future.”

Dr. Divinagracia is calling on Speaker Belmonte to deliberate immediately the RH bill once session resumes.

PNGOC is a national umbrella network with more than 97 member NGOs believing that NOW is the right time for the passage of a Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood, and Population Development policy to recognize the needs of our women, children and families.

 For more information, see www.pngoc.org.

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Comments

  1. Julio Meridio says:

    “Recent data shows that there are 11 Mothers dying daily from preventable maternal complications…”

    11 mothers die every day?

    Data from recent and independent studies suggest that maternal mortality in the Philippines has been declining for the past several years even without a reproductive health measure.

    11 mothers die daily or roughly 4,100 women die each year due to complications related to childbirth. The figure is reportedly based on a 2006 Family Planning Survey by the National Statistics Office.[1] One report cites a 2004 publication entitled ‘Maternity Mortality in 2000: Estimates developed by WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA’ as the source of the ‘11 maternal deaths a day’.[2] The Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society, citing a 2009 UN Children’s Fund report, claims that the Philippines has an MMR average of 230 per 100,000 live births and that maternal deaths are caused by “hemorrhage, sepsis, obstructed labor, hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, and complications of unsafe abortion”.[3] Another report estimates that around 4,500 women die each year due to complications related to child birth.[4]

    The ‘11 maternal deaths a day’ is a figure commonly cited by various persons and groups[5] to effect passage of House Bill 4244: The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011, popularly known as the Reproductive Health or RH Bill.[6]

    Is the figure accurate? Are there 11 mothers who die every day due to childbirth-related complications?

    Recent independent studies, both local and international, suggest otherwise.

    A study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation of the University of Washington in Seattle, published in The Lancet, indicates that maternal mortality from 1980 to 2008 for 181 countries has shown a substantial decline in maternal deaths.[7] There were 342,900 maternal deaths in 2008, down from 526,300 and that MMR worldwide decreased from 422 in 1980 to 320 in 1990, and was 251 per 100,000 livebirths in 2008. In the Philippines, maternal mortality ratio per 100,000 livebirths has decreased accordingly: 443 in 1980, 174 in 1990, 103 in 2000, and 84 in 2008. For 2008, it translates to 4.1 maternal deaths per day.

    Based on this study, “the Philippines outpaced first-world nations like Germany, Russia and Israel — where abortions are legal — in cutting maternal mortality rates”.[8] [9] Authors of the University of Washington study conclude that the new evidence suggests a much greater reason for optimism than has been generally perceived, and that substantial decreases in the MMR are possible over a fairly short time [italics my emphasis].

    Another set of estimates by the WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and The World Bank indicate that the Philippines in 2008 has a maternal mortality ratio of 90 and 2,100 maternal deaths (5.75 deaths per day).[10] Based on these data, the Philippines has improved in reducing maternal mortality with MMR plunging by 48% from 1990 to 2008 and did a better job than Germany, Russia, Israel, Hungary and Malaysia in reducing maternal deaths in terms of percentage drop in MMR.[11]

    The WHO report, published in 2010, concludes that its “analysis of all available data for maternal mortality from 1980 to 2008 for 181 countries has shown a substantial decline in maternal death” having narrowed the “uncertainty around global and national estimates… This improved accuracy is a result of an extensive database and the use of analytical methods with increased explanatory power and improved out-of-sample predictive validity”.

    It adds that “although the [2008 maternal mortality] point estimates are considered the most likely levels of MMR, the uncertainty ranges are intervals estimated to contain the true MMR with 95% probability”. For comparison, A WHO report published in 2004 and cited as the source of the ‘11 maternal deaths a day’, warns that its figures “cannot be used to analyze trends because of the wide margins of uncertainty associated with the estimates.”[12]

    The Guardian places the Philippines 106th in its MMR global rank with 83.6 in 2008.[13]

    The 2010 WHO, University of Washington and The Guardian results are validated by National Statistical Coordination Board figures which show a drop of MMR from 121-207 in 1990 to 95-163 in 2010.[14] In 2008, MMR was estimated at 99-169 per 100,000 live births.[15]

    Earlier, preliminary results from the 2006 Family Planning Survey, already show slightly declining maternal mortality with 162 women dying during pregnancy and childbirth, or shortly after childbirth.[16]

    The UN gives the following Philippine maternal mortality ratio per 100,000 live births: 180 for 1990, 140 for 1995, 120 for 2000, 110 for 2005, and 94 for 2008.[17] For the period 2005-2009, the value is 160 deaths for every 100,000 live births.[18] Furthermore, for the year 1990 and the period 2000-2010, interim estimates of national-level maternal mortality ratios show a systematic decline.[19]

    These studies support the claim that maternal mortality in the Philippines for the last couple of years has been declining even without a reproductive health measure.

    One news carrier puts it succinctly: “The Philippines is winning the battle against maternal deaths even without any reproductive health law. Recent studies released by the government and major research institutes show a marked decline in maternal deaths, contradicting old data used by birth control supporters.”[20]

    Perhaps legislators, government and non-government agencies, and other stakeholders can look into this positive development, identify the reasons for the decline in maternal deaths, and strengthen existing programs to improve maternal health care in the Philippines without channeling much needed resources to an unnecessary and redundant RH bill.

    [1] Christian V. Esguerra (August 28, 2011). Studies show maternal deaths in Philippines in decline. In Inquirer.net. Retrieved December 10, 2011, from http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/49029/studies-show-maternal-deaths-in-philippines-in-decline.

    [2] Dominic Francisco (n.d.). Multiple studies show declining number of maternal deaths; ‘11 a day’ an outdated statistic. In CBCP for Life. Retrieved December 10, 2011 from http://cbcpforlife.com/?p=3338.

    [3] Philippines ranks no. 48 in Maternal Mortality. In Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society. Retrieved December 10, 2011, from http://www.pogsinc.org/v2/index.php/component/content/article/10/58-philippines-ranks–48-in-maternal-mortality.

    [4] Maternal mortality rates not making sufficient progress to meet MDGs. In UNFPA. Retrieved December 10, 2011, from http://www.unfpa.org/public/News/pid/2452.

    [5]

    11 Maternal Death Per Day – It’s Time to Make a Stand. In Likhaan Center for Women’s Health. Retrieved December 10, 2011, from http://www.likhaan.org/content/11-maternal-death-day-its-time-make-stand.

    Congress on RH: Anyare? (December 5, 2011). In The Allegiance. Retrieved December 10, 2011, from http://scapnational.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/congress-on-rh-anyare/.

    Philippine Maternal Mortality Rates Not Making Sufficient Progress to Meet MDGs. In UNFPA. Retrieved December 10, 2011, from http://www.unfpa.org/public/News/pid/2452.

    Clara Rita Padilla (August 16, 2010). Reasons Why We Need the RH Law. In ABS-CBNnews.com. Retrieved December 10, 2011, from http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/insights/08/16/10/reasons-why-we-need-rh-law.

    [6] Downloaded from http://www.congress.gov.ph/download/basic_15/HB04244.pdf.

    [7] Hogan, M.C., Foreman, K.J., Naghavi, M., Ahn, S.Y., Wang, M., Makela, S.M., Lopez, A.D., Lozano, R., Murray, C.J.L. (2010). Maternal mortality for 181 countries, 1980–2008: a systematic analysis of progress towards Millennium Development Goal 5. DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)60518-1.

    [8] Steven Ertelt (September 11, 2011). Philippines sees maternal mortality decline without abortion. In LifeNews.com. Retrieved December 10, 2011, from http://www.lifenews.com/2011/09/01/philippines-sees-maternal-mortality-decline-without-abortion/.

    [9] RJMD (September 3, 2011). US study: From 1980-2008, PHL maternal deaths dropped by 81%. In GMA News Online. Retrieved December 10, 2011 from http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/231354/news/nation/us-study-from-1980-2008-phl-maternal-deaths-dropped-by-81.

    [10] World Health Organization, World Bank, UNICEF, UNFPA (2010). Trends in maternal mortality: 1990 to 2008.

    [11] Dominic Francisco (n.d.). Multiple studies show declining number of maternal deaths; ‘11 a day’ an outdated statistic. In CBCP for Life. Retrieved December 10, 2011 from http://cbcpforlife.com/?p=3338.

    [12] Maternal Mortality in 2000: Estimates Developed by WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA.

    [13] Simon Rogers (April 20, 2010). Maternal mortality: how many women die in childbirth in your country?

    In The Guardian. Retrieved December 10, 2011, from http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/apr/12/maternal-mortality-rates-millennium-development-goals#data.

    [14] National Statistical Coordination Board (September 2011). Statistics at a glance of the Philippines’ progress based on the MDG indicators. In http://www.nscb.gov.ph. Retrieved December 10, 2011, from http://www.nscb.gov.ph/stats/mdg/mdg_watch.asp.

    [15] Dominic Francisco (n.d.). Multiple studies show declining number of maternal deaths; ‘11 a day’ an outdated statistic. In CBCP for Life. Retrieved December 10, 2011 from http://cbcpforlife.com/?p=3338.

    [16] Carmelita N. Ericta (March 13, 2007). Maternal mortality slightly declined,

    MDG target may not be achievable. In NSO 2007 Press Releases. Retrieved December 10, 2011 from http://www.census.gov.ph/data/pressrelease/2007/pr0718tx.html.

    [17] Maternal mortality ratio per 100,000 live births (n.d.). In Millennium Development Goals Database, United Nations Statistics Division. Retrieved December 10, 2011, from http://data.un.org/Data.aspx?d=MDG&f=seriesRowID%3A553#f_2.

    [18] Maternal mortality ratio reported (n.d.). In The State of the World’s Children, United Nations Children’s Fund. Retrieved December 10, 2011, from http://data.un.org/Data.aspx?d=SOWC&f=inID%3A98.

    [19] National Statistical Coordination Board (n.d.). Interim estimates of national-level maternal mortality ratios. In http://www.nscb.gov.ph. Retrieved December 10, 2011, from http://www.nscb.gov.ph/secstat/d_vital.asp.

    [20] Maternal deaths decline in Philippines without birth controls (n.d.). In AsiaNews.it. Retrieved December 10, 2011, from http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Maternal-deaths-decline-in-Philippines-without-birth-controls-22522.html.