Philippines ranks # 48 in Maternal Mortality

230 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births
The United Nations established a high-level commission to develop an accountability framework for the Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health. "Strengthening accountability is critical if we are to save the lives of more women and children," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "We must ensure that partners deliver on their promises but, in turn, it is crucial that they know whether investments are leading to sustainable progress. In September, at the Summit in New York, stakeholders committed US$40 billion in resources to a global effort to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015.

Adopted by world leaders in the year 2000 and set to be achieved by 2015, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) provide a framework for the entire international community to work together towards a common end â making sure that human development reaches everyone, everywhere.

According to the 2009 UN Childrenâs Fund report, The State of the Worldâs Children, the Philippines has an MMR average of 230 per 100,000 live births. Health officials predict the 2015 Millennium Development Goal of 55-60 per 100,000 live births will not be met.

Some 230 women die here for every 100,000 live births, compared with 110 in Thailand, 62 in Malaysia and 14 in Singapore, according to United Nations figures.

Causes of maternal deaths are hemorrhage, sepsis, obstructed labour, hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, and complications of unsafe abortion â most of which are preventable with proper diagnosis and intervention, health specialists said.

âThe maternal mortality ratio in the Philippines is listed as the Millennium Development Goal least likely to be achieved by 2015,â said Vanessa Tobin, the UNICEF country representative for the Philippines. The country has an adjusted maternal mortality ratio of 160 per 100,000 live births against a goal of 55-60 deaths per 100,000 live births

Crucial to reducing maternal deaths is having a skilled attendant present during a delivery. âOnly 60 percent of the births in the Philippines are supervised by a skilled birth attendant, who can be a physician, a nurse or a midwife with 18 months to two years of adequate training. What is not accepted in this definition is a traditional birth attendant [who have had no formal training], the UNICEF official said.

EMPOWERING MIDWIVES TO CURB MATERNAL DEATHS

There is a need to increase of the number of skilled birth-attendants, including midwives, nurses and doctors, to improve maternal health. In the Philippine Framework for Maternal Mortality Reduction, health workers are identified as playing an integral part in achieving a lower MMR in the country. However the lack of professional health practitioners (such as doctors and nurses) in rural areas in the country is a major concern. The gap between health need and the available services is being bridged by the midwives. Although trained only to provide maternal and child health care services, midwives are currently implementing all public health programs.

Giving midwives access to further training in life-saving skills could prevent up to 80 percent of maternal deaths in the Philippines, says Rosalie Paje, division chief of the Family Health Office under the Department of Health (DOH).

âMidwives play a crucial role in providing maternal healthcare, especially in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas and those affected by armed conflict where doctors and nurses are scarce,â Paje said.

The Integrated Midwives Association of the Philippines (IMAP) Inc. called for government support for the training and education of additional midwives in the country.

âMidwives can help prevent up to 90 percent of maternal deaths when they are supported to provide basic life-saving skills in functioning health systems,â Patricia Mines Gomez, IMAP president, said.

CAPACITY ENHANCEMENT PROJECT FOR MIDWIVES ON MATERNAL AND NEWBORN CARE

In 2010, the Philippine Obstetrical & Gyneocological Society launched a training program on Maternal and Immediate Newborn Care for Midwives, focusing onlife saving skills and interventions of the Midwifery Act of 1992.

With the Registered midwives in government or private practice as its target audience, the general objectives were: To strengthen the basic knowledge, skills and attitude of midwives in providing the added skills of midwives under the Midwifery Law (repair of 1st and 2nd degree perineal lacerations, insertion of intravenous fluids during obstetric emergencies, internal examination during labor, administration of oxytocin after delivery of the placenta, and injection of Vitamin K to the newborn) for the improvement of maternal and newborn care.