Unwanted pregnancies caused 52,000 baby deaths in RP last year – study

Published by rudy Date posted on April 16, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – Some 2,600 mothers and 52,000 babies died in the country last year due to lack of sexual and reproductive health knowledge, a leading New York-based policy research group revealed in a study.

The report, titled “Meeting women’s contraceptive need in the Philippines,” said the deaths were triggered by unwanted pregnancies and birth-related illnesses due to lack of information dissemination on reproductive health.

Guttmacher Institute, a policy research organization in the field of sexual and reproductive health in New York, said the low level use of contraceptives among Filipino women had resulted in high levels of unwanted pregnancies in the Philippines.

Guttmacher Institute president Dr. Sharon Camp, who presented the report in a press conference in Quezon City yesterday, stressed that the ability to practice contraception methods is essential in protecting Filipino women’s health and rights.

The report’s highlight is the recording of some 4,600 pregnancy-related deaths among women in the Philippines in 2008, of which 2,600 died due to childbirth complications like abortion. The report also said 52,000 babies died last year before they reached their first birthday.

“Spacing birth for at least two years help babies survive,” the report said.

President of the Forum for Family Planning and Development Benjamin de Leon, who organized the forum, told The STAR that these deaths could have been prevented if the mothers had access to reproductive health care and family planning.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, principal author of the controversial Reproductive Health Bill pending at the House of Representatives, said copies of the study should be distributed to lawmakers to drum up support for the bill’s passage.

He said among the stumbling blocks to the proposed measure is the opposition of the Catholic Church and other groups.

Lagman also clarified that despite strong opposition from the Church, President Arroyo is fully supportive of the bill. –Perseus Echeminada, Philippine Star

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