MANILA, Philippines – The European Union (UE) expressed its continued support for the Philippine health care sector as it aims to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of infant and neonatal mortality reduction (MDG 4) and maternal mortality reduction (MDG 5) by 2015.
EU Ambassador Alistair MacDonald noted that the union has been focused on poverty reduction and improvement of the health status of the local population, in partnership with the Department of Health (DOH). Grants from the EU have amounted to P2.7 billion on ongoing programs.
“Starting this year until 2013, another P4.7 billion will be granted by the European Union for further projects and developments in support of the Philippines Health Sector Reform Agenda,” MacDonald said during the Women Deliver Philippines Conference last week as quoted in a statement.
Health Secretary Dr. Enrique Ona, meantime, was optimistic and definite about meeting the MDG4 and MDG5.
“The most problematic provisions of the Millennium Development Goals– infant and neonatal mortality reduction and maternal mortality reduction – will be met by the Philippines, despite statistics saying that the country will fall shorthanded,” declared Ona.
“Together with the local governments, non-government organizations and international partners, we will give MDG 5 a very, very good try, and we will achieve it,” he noted. “No woman should die giving life.”
Ona added that the DOH, under the Universal Health Care Agenda of the Aquino administration, is under marching orders to provide universal access to reproductive health to meet the MDGs.
The MDGs are time-bound development goals set by governments of 188 member countries during the 2000 Millennium Declaration. They globally accepted aways to curb poverty and hunger as well as alleviate education and health will be evaluated in 2015.
Maternal and child mortality in RP
The 3-day Women Deliver Conference focused on MDG 4 and MDG 5 with hopes of finding ways to reduce their incidence.
According to Ona, the mortality of infants and children under 5 years was significantly reduced by more than half from 1990 to 2008.
But the reduction of maternal mortality by three-fourths and providing universal access to reproductive health made the least progress in the country.
Recent studies show that the maternal mortality rate remains at 162 deaths per 100,000 live births which is thrice the target figure of 52 deaths per 100,000 maternal mortality ratio.
“Five thousand women die each year giving birth and as this day ends, 11 women will have needlessly died and on this same day some 42 children will have become orphaned – when 90% of all maternal deaths could have been averted, with proper care, and proper services,” said MacDonald.
The Philippines’ maternal mortality rate is still one of the highest in the Asian region.
Local and international support
But Ona pointed out that in 2009, a total of 400 infrastructures and medical facilities have been upgraded nationwide, including the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) where the highest numbers of newborn and maternal deaths are registered.
He mentioned that the DOH, Department of Education, National Commission on Indigenous People, Department of Social Welfare and Development and Commission on Human Rights are integrating development plans to address the issues related to maternal mortality reduction.
Legislators and non-government organizations have also put forward localized strategies such as the One Midwife per Barangay Policy and Midwifery Law in order to help improve the effective delivery of basic health services.
Ona also cited the work done by international development partners for the health and welfare of Filipino children and mothers. He mentioned the EU, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), World Bank, Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID).