Women to Congress: It’s Now 12 Mothers Dying Every Day,..Campaign for PWD registration andRise in Maternal Deaths due to Lack of RH Policy, says RH Advocates
Posted on June 21st By vigie llorin-plcpd
Women to Congress: It’s Now 12 Mothers Dying Every Day, What Else Are you waiting for?
Amid recent Department of Health (DOH) report on increasing number of deaths among women caused by pregnancy and childbirth-related complications, a group of women reproductive health (RH) advocates working in grassroots communities nationwide is questioning Congress for not using its legislative powers to stop these preventable deaths.
Elizabeth Angsioco, National Chairperson of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP), one of the front liners pushing for the passage of the long-delayed RH bill, emphasized that the proposed law contains provisions that will save mothers from dying.
According to her, the passage of the bill will mean greater access for women and young people, particularly girls, to: information and education that can help them better care for their bodies and health; family planning services, proven worldwide to make for healthy, properly timed, intended, and safe pregnancies; and, other life-saving services that address pregnancy and childbirth complications.
“Poor women and girls do not understand why their lives are jeopardized by those who oppose the RH bill’s passage – particularly the very few rich people who do not have to deal with RH-related problems they face; the men who will never experience pregnancies and its complications; and the Catholic hierarchy who are without wives whose lives many be put in danger and children whose future need preparing for,” stressed Angisoco.
Adding that women cannot understand why Congress, composed of honorable representatives and senators, are turning a deaf ear to their clamor for the passage of the RH bill, she said, “After all, Congress is mandated to pass legislations that respond to people’s needs.”
Angsioco argues that all recent studies and surveys underscore the urgency of passing the RH bill. She emphasized that the National Statistics Office’s 2011 Family Health Survey indicates an increase in the Maternal Mortality Rates (MMR) from 162 per 100,000 births to 221 per 100,000 births in 2010. “Thus, from the previous estimate of 11 women dying daily, this has increased to at least 12 mothers’ deaths daily due to pregnancy and/or childbirth-related complications,” she explained.
Moreover, according to her, this finding is significantly related with reports earlier this year that 10% of annual births are due to adolescent pregnancies. “It doesn’t take a genius to realize that adolescent pregnancies are risky because girls’ bodies are not yet ready for pregnancy,” she asserted.
“That mothers, particularly poor and girl mothers continue to die, and in bigger numbers due to preventable causes is totally unjust, totally unacceptable. Congress must not wait any longer. It should use its power to enact a law that will address maternal mortality head on,” she ended.
Campaign for PWD registration creating ripples among sectors
The campaign for the registration and updating of records of persons with disabilities (PWDS) is continuously creating ripples among the sector, non-government organizations, local government units and government agencies.
As of June 12, 2012, there are at least 24,573 PWDs who registered and updated their records based on the result of the last three (3) ERB Hearings (October 17, 2011/January 16, 2012/April 16, 2012). The number is expected to increase as various projects with voter registration aspect were prepared by various non-government organizations, local government units and government agencies in coordination with COMELEC.
Based on the partial report of the Education and Barangay Affairs Department, Region VII tops the list with a total of 5,256 PWD registrants followed by Region IV-A (4,167), Region V (2,242) and Region VIII (2,238).
Last year, COMELEC declared July 18-23, 2011 as National PWD Registration Week and established voter registration sites in malls and other accessible location. This was made feasible with the technical and manpower support of the Inter-agency and NGO Network on Empowering Persons with Disabilities especially in the dissemination of information and coordination. Early this year, the Commission conducted focused registrations for PWDs by regions per month, to wit: March 2012 for Regions VI-VIII; April 2012 for Regions IX-XII and CARAGA; and May 2012 for Regions I-V, CAR and NCR. Results for these registrations are still being tallied.
For the ARMM general registration, steps are made to encourage PWD registrants to go out and register. A full-blown campaign for PWD registration is expected since a lot of stakeholders are participating and local partners are already established.
While the July 21, 2012 National PWD Registration Day has been cancelled to give way to the ARMM registration which will utilize personnel and equipment from non-ARMM areas, Commissioner Rene V. Sarmiento, focal person for COMELEC in the Inter-agency and NGO Network on Empowering Persons with Disabilities, proposed that a special registration day for PWDs be set in August to further strengthen the campaign for PWD voter registration.
COMELEC works in partnership with NGOs, disability peoples organizations (DPOs), and other key government agencies in a program called Fully Abled Nation. It aims to increase participation of PWDs in the 2013 Philippine midterm elections and other democratic processes by heightening voter awareness among PWDs, promoting partnerships to enhance support and awareness of PWD participatory needs, and strengthening the capabilities of DPOs and NGOs supporting PWD advocacies. Fully Abled Nation is supported by The Asia Foundation and the Australian Agency for International Development.
Rise in Maternal Deaths due to Lack of RH Policy, says RH Advocates
Following the Department of Health’s (DOH) admission of the rising maternal deaths in the country , a group of leading reproductive health (RH) advocates cited the lack of a national policy that will provide comprehensive services on RH and family planning as one of the major reasons why maternal mortality rate (MMR) has not declined in the past decade.
According to Romeo Dongeto, Executive Director of the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD), the results of the 2011 Family Health Survey (FHS) present a clear picture of the current state of our health system and underscore the grim reality that poor women are not being served by government health services.
Dongeto laments that through the years, access to family planning services remains a challenge. The government’s Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and Nutrition (MNCHN) grant program has not been very effective since it has resulted in uneven and non-standardized provision of services. The decision to provide RH and FP education and services is left to LGU officials. “It has left the impression that MNCHN is optional,” explains Dongeto.
Dongeto also cited the facts that certain LGUs ban family planning services, which denied their constituents, especially poor women, of the much needed information and services on how to plan their pregnancies. The 2011 Family Health Survey showed that between 2006 and 2011, the MMR have risen from 162 to 221. This meant the number of Filipino mothers who died in childbirth had risen from 162 in 2009 to 221 in 2011 per 100,000 live births. “Too close and too frequent pregnancies, coupled with lack of services are causing the deaths of poor women,” Dongeto stressed.
“We do not want to point fingers. But we are calling the leadership of Congress to pass the RH bill now. This is what we’ve got after more than 10 years of dilly-dallying on the proposed measure – an alarming increase in maternal deaths,” he said.
”We do not claim that the enactment of the RH bill will address all maternal health related issues, but a law on RH will help resolve the lack of access to RH and FP education and services among women, especially the poor. A national law will ensure that LGUs will allocate funding and will implement concrete programs on reproductive health,“ Dongeto ended.
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