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Sunday, March 6, 2011

World Facts: Ten Facts About Reproductive Heath in the Philippines

FACT: Eleven Filipina mothers die in childbirth every day, from causes that could have been prevented by family planning.

Poor Filipina mothers without access to reproductive health information nor contraceptives endanger their health by having babies one after another. The World Health Organization, United Nations Population Fund, and medical journal The Lancet are unanimous in asserting that correct and consistent use of contraceptives can help prevent one-third of maternal deaths. Studies conducted by the WHO also conclude that proper birth spacing reduces the risk of death for newborns and infants by 50%. The World Health Organization underscores that 99% of all maternal deaths happen in developing countries like the Philippines. This is why a national policy on reproductive health is crucial in order to drastically lower maternal mortality rates in the country.

FACT: The Philippines has the highest fertility rate in Asia.

Over three children per woman.

FACT: The poor have three times as many children as the rich.

The Total Fertility Rate for the poorest 20% of Filipinas, is 5.9 children per woman, three times higher than the wealthiest 20% of Filipinas who have only 2 children per woman. The TFR for Filipinas with a college education is 2.3, about half that of Filipinas with only an elementary education (4.5).

FACT: More than half of large families are poor.

In Population and Poverty, Aniceto Orbeta, Jr, showed that poverty incidence is higher among big families: 57.3% of Filipino families with seven children are in poverty while only 23.8% of families who have two children live below the poverty threshold.

FACT: Rapid population growth exacerbates poverty.

According to the UN State of the World Population Report 2002, “family planning and reproductive health are essential to reducing poverty”. The report declares that “countries that invest in reproductive health and family planning and in women’s development register slower population growth and faster economic growth”. The Asian Development Bank in 2004 also listed a large population as one of the major causes of poverty in the country.

FACT: Fertility reduction economically helps individual households as well as the national economy.

Smaller families and wider birth intervals resulting from the use of contraceptives allow families to invest more in each child’s education, health, nutrition and eventually reduce poverty and hunger at the household level. At the national level, fertility reduction cuts the cost of social services with fewer people attending school or seeking medical care and as demand eases for housing, transportation, jobs, water, food and other natural resources.

FACT: Reproductive Health is a fundamental human right, according to both domestic Philippine law and international convention.

Reproductive health is a fundamental human right and was affirmed as such in the Proclamation of Tehran during the International Conference on Human Rights 43 years ago in 1968. The right to reproductive health and family planning was subsequently reiterated in numerous other UN Conventions of which the Philippines is likewise a party.

FACT: Nearly half of all pregnancies in the Philippines are unplanned.

According to the 2003 NDHS, 44.3% of all pregnancies in the country are unplanned principally because of the lack of information on and access to family planning services. It is for this reason that the incidence of induced abortion in this country is 500,000 annually.

FACT: As contraceptive use increases, abortion decreases.

Contraceptive use and abortion have an inverse correlation. The more women use effective contraception, the less likely they have unwanted pregnancies that will be terminated through abortion. Research by the Guttmacher Institute also reveals that the use of contraceptives can reduce abortion rates by 85%.

FACT: Almost half of poor Filipinas who want to avoid another pregnancy do not know how to do so.

The 2006 Family Planning Survey results also show that among the poorest women who want to avoid another pregnancy, at least 41% do not use any contraceptive method because they lack information on and access to family planning methods.

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