LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 18 (PNA) -- The big number of maternal deaths in the Bicol region over the past two years continues to spoil the efforts of health authorities and local government agencies in improving the reproductive health of women in the region over the years.
The latest report from the Department of Health (DOH) in Bicol Family Cluster program cited “complications arising from hypertension” as the major cause of the maternal deaths.
“In 2015 alone, there were 173 maternal death cases (per thousand live births),” said Dr. Rita Mae Ang-Bon, coordinator of DOH-Bicol Family Cluster program.
She said the biggest number of cases were reported in Camarines Sur at 61, followed by Masbate-31, Albay-29, Camarines Norte-23, Catanduanes-16 and Sorsogon-13.
Bon added they were able to record 124 cases in the region as of November 2016.
She said from 2015 to 2016, “hypertension resulting to pre-eclampsia, eclampsia and hemorrhage have contributed to the maternal death cases in the region.”
Eclampsia is a condition in which convulsions occur in a pregnant woman suffering from high blood pressure. Often followed by a coma these pose a threat to the health of the mother and the baby.
Bon said the other causes of deaths are “indirect medical conditions, sepsis infection (or blood infection), ‘home transit to health facility’ and unknown.”
Citing the 2015 data, the report said 85.50 percent of the 173 cases in the Bicol region cited the place of maternal deaths as the hospital.
“Only 14 percent of the deaths occurred while in transit (from the home to birthing facility) or at home,” added the report.
Bon said the consolidated report from the six Bicol provinces showed that “maternal deaths by stage at time of death” were mostly in the “post-partum phase” or the immediate period after the baby has been delivered.
She said local government units (LGUs) in the region have been intensifying their campaign on maternal and child health.
“This is to make sure that all pregnant mothers are being properly monitored and that they submit themselves to regular prenatal check up,” said Bon.
She said barangay health workers (BHWs) and midwives have been deployed to all villages to provide direct services to mothers.
Bon said that rural areas also have higher Maternal Mortality Rates, also called MMR by statisticians, because many women in rural areas begin having children at a young age.
“Since adolescent women are normally not developed enough for childbirth, these young mothers face many complications during and after pregnancy and contribute to the high maternal mortality rate,” she said.
Bon said DOH, along with local population officers, BHWs and their rural health units have introduced many interventions to reduce maternal and child deaths.
“Since a majority of maternal deaths occur during and soon after delivery, many interventions concentrate on this period,” she said.
She said that currently traditional birth attendants or TBAs are only allowed to assist midwives and mothers during pregnancy or birth at the birthing facility.
Bon said programs have attempted to utilize this existing system by giving short training courses to TBAs.
“But there is little evidence that such programs are effective in reducing maternal mortality even if they may be effective in reducing mortality among newborns,” she said.
Bon said through a “nutrition promotion program” the DOH and its counterparts in the LGUs continue to implement effective interventions just before a baby is delivered by the mother.
“Immediate and exclusive breastfeeding is highly recommended to mothers,” she said.
Bon said there have been a number of interventions aimed at educating and supporting women to initiate breastfeeding and adopt optimal breastfeeding behaviors. She said it has been shown that “improving breastfeeding practices can help to reduce neonatal mortality.”
In its “2012 Philippine Health Statistics,” the DOH Epidemiology Bureau said the number of registered maternal deaths in Civil Registry Offices nationwide reached a total of 1,447 (per 100,000 live births) while the MMR was 0.8 per thousand live births.
It said that in 2012, the Eastern Visayas Region recorded the highest MMR of 1.6 maternal deaths per thousand live births while the Cordillera Administrative Region recorded the lowest with 0.5 deaths per thousand live births.
The bureay said six out of 17 regions "had MMR higher than the national rate of 0.8.”
In the Bicol region, the DOH-bureau said maternal mortality in 2012 was 103 per 1,000 population with the MMR at 1.05 deaths per thousand live births.
The Epidemiology Bureau reported that by province, for the same year, there were 23 maternal deaths in Camarines Sur with an MMR of 0.9; Albay-23 (1.3 MMR); Camarines Norte-19 (1.4 MMR); Masbate-14 (1.0 MMR); Sorsogon-12 (1.0 MMR); and Catanduanes-4 (0.7).
In the same report, the DOH bureau described maternal mortality rate or MMR as the “mirror of a woman’s health and nutritional status during pregnancy, at childbirth, or in the period after childbirth. It also highlights her access to professional medical services before, during and even after childbirth.”
Population Commission (PopCom)-Bicol Director Magdalena Abellera has said that “the target is to lower maternal mortality to 52 deaths per 100,000 live births” under the government’s new Sustainable Development Goals or SDG program.
SDGs otherwise known as the “Global Goals” are universal calls to action to promote development that are being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme in 170 countries.
Policy planners said the goals, that combine the factors necessary for quality life in the 21st millennium, must serve as a framework in governance.(PNA) LAM/GVR/MDR/CBD/EDS