UNFPA sounds alarm on rising maternal deaths in PH

As the world celebrates Mother’s Day, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Philippines is shedding light on the alarming increase of maternal mortality rates in the country.

Dr. Leila Saiji Joudane, Country Representative of UNFPA Philippines, emphasized the need for gender equality and adequate reproductive health care to address the issue.

While acknowledging the importance of support from health providers, family, and society for mothers, Joudane expressed concern over the inadequate support some women receive during childbirth, leading to maternal deaths.

She cited a significant increase in maternal deaths in the Philippines over the past two years, with 2,478 women dying of maternal causes in 2021, up from 1,458 in 2019.

“In the Philippines, we noticed an increase of maternal deaths during the past two years: in 2019, 1458 women died of maternal causes; this number increased to 2,478 in 2021,” she said.

The top five causes of maternal deaths included complications in pregnancy, childbirth, and puerperium, eclampsia, pre-eclampsia, and hemorrhage.

Joudane emphasized that many of these deaths are preventable with accessible proper medical interventions and adequate healthcare systems that are also resilient to emergencies.

She also pointed out that the high cost of healthcare makes it more inaccessible to poor Filipinos.

According to the 2021 National Health Expenditure Survey, Filipinos in rural areas pay more for healthcare services and medicines compared to those living in urban areas and those with better income.

To address these issues, UNFPA Philippines supports the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Philippines’ commitment to achieving universal health coverage and universal access to sexual and reproductive health, and reducing preventable maternal deaths to zero.

Joudane highlighted that preventing maternal mortality, the denial of rights, or demographic change can all be addressed by making the world a more gender-equal place.

“This Mother’s Day, let us uphold the right of all people — especially mothers — to reach the highest possible standard of health,” Joudane said. “Timely health care for pregnant women can make the difference between life and death. No woman should die giving life.”

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