POPCOM calls for more accessible maternal, newborn health services

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 19) — The increased fatality rate among Filipino babies and their mothers is a sign of difficulties in accessing care for maternal and newborn health, the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) said Wednesday.

These difficulties resulted in "fatal consequences," the commission added.

According to POPCOM, the number of deaths classified under "other direct obstetric deaths" displayed a notable increase in the first six months of 2022 at 468, citing the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). The last year's tally during the same period was 425.

The World Health Organization describes direct obstetric deaths, or direct maternal deaths, as fatalities that result from "obstetric complications of the pregnant state (pregnancy, labor, and puerperium), and from interventions, omissions, incorrect treatment, or from a chain of events resulting from any of the above." 

The aforementioned cause of death rose in ranking from #44 in 2021 to #39 in 2022. Additionally, it increased its share from 0.1 in 2021 to 0.2 this year as stated in PSA's latest data.

Meanwhile, despite a decrease in newborn deaths to 3,686 from 4,424 in 2021, it is now ranked #17, up from #18 the previous year.

"This condition indicates an issue in accessing appropriate, quality, and timely services from health-care facilities," POPCOM Officer-in-Charge Lolito R. Tacardon said.

"It poses the challenge to improve our local health system for emergency obstetric and newborn care, which was definitely affected during the pandemic," he added.

Tacardon appealed for more medical care for mothers and their babies, particularly the latter's first 1,000 days of life, which are deemed the most crucial by health experts.

The POPCOM official also called for the implementation of the Universal Health Care Law and the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law that upholds the well-being and overall health of Filipino moms and their children.