29 June 2012

2011 NHS Showed MMR Increasing

Philippine Maternal Mortality
Results of the 2011 Family Health Survey (FHS) is out and it is not very encouraging.

The nationwide survey was conducted in August 2011 by the National Statistics office (NSO) and it involved 53,000 women aged 15 to 49 years old. The survey was designed to produce estimates, at the national level and for each of the country's 17 regions, of major indicators of family planning, maternal health and child health, and maternal and under-five mortality, as well as fertility.

The 2011 FHS reveal that unmet need for family planning among married women remains high at 19.3 percent, 10.5 percent for birth spacing and 8.8 percent for limiting births. In the 2006 Family Planning Survey (FPS), unmet need for FP was 15.7 percent, 8.4 percent for spacing and 7.3 percent for limiting.

Unmet need for family planning refers to the proportion of currently married women who are not using any method of family planning, but do not want any more children or prefer to space births.

Total unmet need for family planning is substantially greater among women considered poor (25.8 percent) compared to non-poor women (16.6 percent).

Another bad news from the 2011 FHS is that the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) has worsened. From 209 pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 live births in 1993 (based on the National Demographic Survey), it went up to 221 per 100,000 live births in 2011. This is far from the target of the country to bring MMR down to 52 per 100,000 live births by 2015.

It is really depressing because the 221 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2011 could have been prevented had mothers received adequate pre and post natal care. Most of the time, these mothers do not get the proper care they rightfully deserve because of lack of information, access and financial resources. The poor get caught in a poverty trap as most marry young, have more children and have little access to reproductive health services and commodities.

The saving grace for the country is that it was able to address child mortality albeit not enough to be considered substantial. Both the infant and under-five mortality rate went down from the 1993 figures of 38 and 64 deaths per 1,000 live births respectively, to 22 and 30 deaths.

These numbers from the 2011 NHS poses a challenge for both the public and private sectors to come up with radical and strategic interventions that would immediately impact on the maternal and child health indices. Despite the Catholic Church’s objection, there is a need to encourage private and civil society organizations to proactively contribute to needed family planning interventions.