'Pregnancy is deadly in a developing country'

By Leilani Chavez, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at Jan 16 2009 05:30 PM | Updated as of Jan 22 2009 03:28 AM

Pregnancy is 300 times deadlier for women in least developed countries than women in developed ones, the UNICEF said in a report issued Friday.

In its 2009 State of the World Children report, UNICEF said an estimated 99 percent of global deaths arise from pregnancy and complications in the developing world, making pregnancy among the most serious health risks for women.

“Every year, more than half a million women die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth complications, including about 70,000 girls and young women aged 15 to 19,” Ann Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director, said in a written statement.

Out of 76 pregnant women, one will most likely die of childbirth in a developing country while the chances are slimmer in developed countries where the rate is 1 in 8,000. The report also noted that for every mother who dies, 20 others are suffering from illnesses or injuries.

Countries with high fertility rates like in Africa and Asia have more maternal mortality due to “shortage of trained personnel and weak health systems.”

In the Philippines, UNICEF estimated that 11 Filipino mothers, or 4,500 in a year, die due to pregnancy-related complications like “severe hemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, sepsis and problems related to obstructed labor and abortion.”

The report cited that a child born in a developing country is 14 times more likely to die during the first month as compared to a child born in a developed one.

In the days and weeks after birth, both mothers and infants are vulnerable and needs post-natal visits, proper hygiene, and counseling.

The health and survival of mothers and their newborns are linked, and many of the interventions that save new mothers’ lives also benefit their infants, the report said.

UNICEF data also showed that half of children deaths in the Philippines occur a month after birth.

The Philippines is among 68 countries, which contribute to 97% of maternal, neonatal and child health deaths worldwide.

Vanessa Tobin, UNICEF representative, stressed that aside from the need to upgrade facilities, there should also be proper education on reproduction health to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

But although there is an increase in infant survival rate over the years, there have been lesser efforts in reducing maternal mortality.

If the situation continues, Tobin stressed that the improvement of maternal health in the Philippines might be one of the Millennium Developmental Goals that are least likely to be achieved by 2015.

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Maternal and Newborn Health