Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The major cause of maternal deaths, really

Group to bishops: Deal maternal deaths issue

MANILA, Philippines – A women’s group backing the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill called on the Catholic bishops to deal on the issue of maternal deaths in the wake of their opposition in the hotly-debated bill.

In a statement, the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP) hit the Catholic bishops for issuing statements protesting the bill but none on arresting maternal deaths.

“Our group alone have lost quite a number of poor women due to lack of access to reproductive health services,” said DSWP Chairwoman Elizabeth Angsioco.

“The nation loses if we do nothing and allow the death of 11 mothers every day, due to pregnancy and pregnancy-related complications,” she added.

“The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) stubborn rejection of the RH bill is a major reason why women die,” she pointed out.

The statement came after the CBCP vowed to relentlessly fight against the passage of the measure, even urging President Benigno Aquino III to veto the bill if it pass in Congress.

“The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) stubborn rejection of the RH bill is a major reason why women die”.

Really?? What a preposterous claim. This kind of sneaky argument has been going around for a quite a while and I guess there must be a law penalizing "malicious disinformation", irony intended.

Official DOH figures (here) shows that the leading cause of maternal mortality is post-partum hemorrhage, followed by retained placenta, eclampsia, etc. Nowhere in the top 10 causes does it even remotely say that the CBCP's stubborn rejection of the RH bill is the major reason (!)

Ah, I see. Direct inference. IF contraceptives were freely available, then these mortality deaths WILL BE avoided (GUARANTEED!) because ALL those who suffered maternal deaths, in the first place, had unwanted pregnancies (yes, all of them) AND they sought out absolutely EFFECTIVE and SAFE contraceptives which were inaccessible, AND the root causal and direct culprit being the CBCP's stubborn opposition to the RH bill. It is giving me a migraine just trying to wrap my head around this convoluted cause-and-effect analysis.

A pregnancy happens because two people engage in sex, irresponsible or otherwise. The AFP, NBI, KofC, CWL, and CBCP for that matter, is not a causal that these people decide to engage in sex. Health complications arise out of pregnancy simply because of a lack of professional medical care. The DFA, DOH, AirForce, DSWP, and CBCP for that matter, is not a direct causal if there is a lack of maternal care. Wait...maybe the DOH is. Maternal and Child health is already an existing mandate of the DOH, and it must see to it to the best of its ability that there are accredited medical professionals that provides care to pregnant women.

In relation to this, there is this study made by NCSB-NSO (circa 2002) investigating the "Factors Affecting Maternal Health Utilization in the Philippines". According to NSO statisticians Elaine B. Rogan and Virginia R. Olveña:

"The use of professional assistance during delivery is generally low for the Philippines. Only sixty percent of women who delivered in the last five years preceding the survey were assisted by a health professional for their most recent pregnancy while seventy percent of women received postnatal care. Utilization of maternal care is lowest in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with only eighty-five percent for prenatal care, twenty-one percent received professional delivery assistance and forty-eight percent obtained postnatal care. Meanwhile, the National Capital Region (NCR) accounts for the highest percentage of maternal health utilization with ninety-seven percent for both prenatal and delivery care and seventy-six percent for postnatal services..."

The study concludes in part:

"The quality of health care remains wanting in many areas. Some health facilities have deteriorated and poor quality services exists. Low quality drugs and medicines are present in the market. These have been attributed partly to the weak enforcement of health regulations..."

So it appears there is severe lack of accredited health professionals, and that utilization of maternal health services is very, very low (only at an average of 60%). It means 40% of pregnant women were not attended to during their deliveries, the high figure attributable to the rural areas.

And that, my dear DSWP Chairwoman Elizabeth Angsioco, is what should get your goat when you say "our group alone have lost quite a number of poor women due to lack of access to reproductive health services". Eksakto yun. If there was a law right now which penalizes "Any person who maliciously engages in disinformation...", you could be in trouble...

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