For a country where an estimated 4,500 women die each year from pregnancy and childbirth, surely the Philippines is not among the safest places to become a mother.
In fact, according to the United Nations Fund for Population Agency, the Philippines’ Millennium Development Goal No. 5—to lower maternal mortality rate to just 52 per 100,000 live births by 2015—is least likely to be achieved.
This is because during the 2011 Family Health Survey, a drastic increase of maternal mortality rate was reported in 2011, with 221 deaths out of 100,000 births compared to 2009 with only 162 deaths.
Only a few countries in the region share the Philippines’ predicament, like Indonesia, which posts a comparable 228 deaths per 100,000 live births and Laos, which posts an alarming 470 deaths per 100,000 live births.
The rest of our Southeast Asian neighbors have made excellent progress in improving their child survival rate in recent year. These are Thailand with 48 deaths per 100,000 live births; Vietnam with 69 per 100,000 live births; Malaysia with 29 deaths in 100,000 live births and Singapore with 3 deaths in 100,000 live births.
To help countries like the Philippines make headway in reducing maternal mortality, Sanofi Espoir Foundation, in partnership with the International Confederation of Midwives, recently launched an initiative dubbed “A midwife for every mother and baby.”
The initiative calls for projects that focus on fighting maternal and neonatal mortality as well as strengthening the midwifery workforce, especially in remote areas.
The foundation has allocated 1.3 million Euro (P70 million) to fund these deserving projects.
Entries coming from the Philippines are expected to generate interest, considering that it is among the 68 countries which contribute to 97 percent of maternal, neonatal and child health deaths worldwide.
Around 11 Filipino mothers die every day—or an estimated 4,500 every year—due to severe hemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, sepsis and problems related to obstructed labor and abortion.
Moreover, about half of the deaths of Filipino children under 5 years happen in the first 28 days of life.
Until May 31
The corporate foundation of the French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Aventis explained that detailed information about “A midwife for every mother and baby” initiative and application forms may be secured at www.fondation-sanofi-espoir.com/en/index.php.
Submission of applications is until May 31 and entries should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org copy furnished to Khristine Cabanayan (email@example.com), communications officer of Sanofi-Aventis Philippines.
The projects that will be chosen must be consistent with the theme of the call for projects: helping in the fight against maternal and neonatal mortality and strengthening midwifery competencies through initial education, continuing education and upgrading.
It must also help recruit and retain midwives in remote areas as well as facilitate the sharing of experience and networking between midwives, health professionals (obstetricians, gynecologists, and nurses) and other community health workers.
According to Sanofi Espoir Foundation, this call for project proposals is aimed at applying financial and human resources to identify and encourage programs at local, regional and international levels that support health policies in the fight against maternal and neonatal mortality.
Each year, approximately 300,000 women reportedly die during pregnancy or childbirth worldwide. Those who survive—between 10 and 15 million women—suffer complications that leave them permanently sick or disabled.
In addition, nearly 2 million newborn infants die within the first 24 hours of life, and there are 2.6 million stillbirths.
Doing their best to lower these figures are midwives who are at the forefront of providing healthcare to mothers during prepregnancy, pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period, including family planning.
However, global distribution of midwives is extremely uneven. According to the 2011 State of the World’s Midwifery, only 17 percent of the world’s skilled birth attendants work in the 58 developing countries, despite the fact that 58 percent of all births globally take place in these countries.
Moreover, the World Health Organization estimates that the shortage is severe in 38 countries and even worse in rural and remote communities.