Sen. Pia Cayetano disclosed yesterday that a United Nations report showed that at least ten Filipino mothers die every day while giving birth, which is the worst maternal mortality rate in Southeast Asia.
Cayetano said that a skilled health professional is also present in only seven of every ten births in the country.
She said that at a glance, the numbers reflect the poor state of maternal health in the country, one in a number of failing marks that the Philippines has registered so far in pursuing its commitments to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“We should view maternal mortality as a social gauge on the status of women in their respective countries, including their access to health care and adequacy of the public health system to respond to their needs,” said Cayetano.
“Many of these mothers die from inadequate prenatal and postnatal care, either because they did not have access to, or could not afford, these services, or perhaps because they lacked the proper information,” she added.
Cayetano explained that the MDGs include eight time-bound, concrete and specific targets aimed at significantly reducing, if not decisively eradicating, poverty by the year 2015. These targets were set in September 2000 by 189 UN member-countries, including the Philippines, and adopted as the UN Millennium Declaration.
“Nearly a decade since the MDGs were laid down, and with only six years to go before the 2015 deadline, how is the Philippines really faring in realizing its own MDGs? Has the government been able to effectively integrate and prioritize the MDGs in its national budget and programs?” Cayetano said.
Cayetano, together with the United Nations Millennium Campaign and the United Nations System in the Philippines, will attempt to answer these questions in an experts’ forum and exhibit on the MDGs to be held at the Senate tomorrow.
Suneeta Mukherjee, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Country Representative and Salil Shetty, Global Director of the UN Millennium Campaign, will participate in the discussion on the status and strategies to meet the MDGs.
Cayetano, currently president of the Committee of Women Parliamentarians of the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), has taken up the MDGs in Senate deliberations on the national budget and other legislative measures.
In the proposed P1.415-trillion national budget for 2009, Cayetano has been pushing for the inclusion of a Rural Midwives Placement Program to help improve public health services on pre-natal care and maternal delivery.
She has also filed Senate Resolution No. 376, which inquires into the status of the MDGs in the country, specifically on improving maternal and child health and eradicating diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria.
The forum will bring together experts from various sectors in a discussion of the MDGs, focusing on maternal health and universal primary education – two indicators which experts say the country is unlikely to meet by 2015.
The six other goals under the UN Millennium Declaration are: eradication of extreme poverty and hunger; promotion of gender equality and women empowerment; reduction of child mortality; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; environmental sustainability; and developing a global partnership for development.–Christina Mendez, Philippine Star