MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is among the top 10 countries in the world where there is great inequality in newborn deaths between the richest and poorest populations, according to Save the Children’s study entitled, Ending Newborn Deaths: Ensuring Every Baby Survives, which was launched Friday, April 11.
The children’s aid agency urges the country to tackle inequality in healthcare access and the underlying causes of newborn deaths, including maternal undernutrition and ill-access, access to reproductive health services, and prevention of teen pregnancies in order to continue reductions in newborn deaths.
The report revealed that 2.2 million children die during childbirth or within the first day of life; half of which could be prevented if the mother and baby had free healthcare, birth attendance is done by a skilled midwife and access to quality reproductive health services.
“Less than 30 per cent of the babies in the poorest sector of the Philippines are delivered by a skilled birth attendant, compared to nearly 100 per cent in the richest economic bracket.” said Ned Olney, Country Director of Save the Children.
“The root problem is the lack of skilled health workers with the right equipment and medical supplies to support mothers, especially in the most rural and remote areas where they are needed the most.”
“In the Philippines, the decline in deaths among children below 5 years of age has slowed down because of the slow decline in neonatal mortality rate. About 32,000 infants die in their first 28 days and prematurity/low birth weight is cited as the leading cause of neonatal death. Low birth weight babies are at highest risk for death”, said Dr. Amado Parawan, Health and Nutrition Advisor of Save the Children.
The Philippines is reported to have the highest low birth weight rate among the 11 member countries of the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations).
“The survival of mothers and their newborn babies are closely linked. By addressing the causes of newborn mortality, we will also be able to save the lives of many mothers.” said Ned Olney.
By implementing the Reproductive Health law and allowing women and adolescent girls to have access to reproductive health services and information, the lives of these women, adolescent girls and their newborn can be saved. This is crucial especially now when the incidence of teen pregnancy in the country is increasing.
In a bid to save millions of newborn lives, Save the Children is calling on world leaders, civil society, and the private sector to commit to the Five-Point Newborn Promise:
• Issue a defining and accountable declaration to end all preventable newborn mortality, saving 2 million newborn lives a year and stopping the 1.2 million stillbirths during labour
• Ensure that by 2025 every birth is attended by trained and equipped health workers who can deliver essential newborn health interventions
• Increase expenditure on health to at least the WHO minimum of US$60 per person to pay for the training, equipping and support of health worker
• Remove user fees for all maternal, newborn and child health services, including emergency obstetric care; and
• The private sector, including pharmaceutical companies, should help address unmet needs by developing innovative solutions esp. for the poorest.