Philippines not a good place to be a mother

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 07 2013 03:58 PM | Updated as of May 07 2013 11:58 PM

PH ranks 106th on list of best places to be a mother

MANILA – The Philippines is among the worst places in Southeast Asia to be a mother, according to an annual report of Save the Children released on Tuesday.

The London-based charity's annual "State of the World's Mothers" report, released just in time for Mother's Day on May 12, compared 176 countries in terms of maternal health, child mortality, education and levels of women's income and political status.

The Philippines was at No. 106, tied with Indonesia, ahead only of Timor Leste (No. 110), Laos (No. 121) and Cambodia (No. 130).

Singapore, at No. 15, was the best place for mothers in Asia, according to the report, with Malaysia at No. 70, Thailand at No. 80 and Vietnam at No. 86.

The Democratic Republic of Congo earned the unenviable distinction of being the worst place in the world to be a mother, with countries in sub-Saharan Africa taking up each of the bottom ten places for the first time in the 14 years that the report has been produced.

In contrast, Finland took the top spot, with its Nordic neighbors filling the other leading positions.

The Philippines was at No. 95 in last year’s report which compared 165 countries, divided into three tiers based on economic development.

“Babies born to mothers living in the greatest poverty face the greatest challenges to survival. At the heart of the newborn survival problem is the widening gap between the health of the world’s rich and poor. Virtually all (98 percent) newborn deaths occur in developing countries, and within many of these countries, babies born to the poorest families have a much higher risk of death compared to babies from the richest families,” this year's report said.

“Disparities within countries like Bolivia, Cambodia, India, Morocco, Mozambique and the Philippines are especially dramatic.”

As such, Save the Children called for investments to close the "startling disparities" in maternal health between the developed and developing world and for a push to fight inequality and malnutrition.

According to the report, babies born to the poorest mothers in Cambodia, India, Morocco, Mozambique and the Philippines die “at twice the rate of babies born to the richest mothers.”

It added that if the Philippines succeeds in closing the equity gap,” this could save the lives of 11,800 newborns a year with a 41% reduction in newborn mortality.

"By investing in mothers and children, nations are investing in their future prosperity," said Jasmine Whitbread, Save the Children International's chief executive.

"If women are educated, are represented politically, and have access to good quality maternal and child care, then they and their children are much more likely to survive and thrive -- and so are the societies they live in," she added.

"Huge progress has been made across the developing world, but much more can be done to save and improve millions of the poorest mothers and newborns' lives."

The report also highlighted the number of mothers giving birth "before their bodies have matured," the low use of contraception, poor access to satisfactory healthcare and a dearth of health-workers.

The study identified four potentially lifesaving products which it claims could be rolled out universally.

They are corticosteroid injections to women in preterm labor; resuscitation devices to save babies who do not breathe at birth; chlorhexidine cord cleansing to prevent umbilical cord infections and injectable antibiotics to treat newborn sepsis and pneumonia.

The top countries after Finland were Sweden, Norway, Iceland and the Netherlands, with the United States trailing in 30th place behind Slovenia and Lithuania. – With a report from Agence France-Presse