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The perils of motherhood.

  • Choudhury, P A
Published Article
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1991
PMID: 12285838


The seminar on maternal morbidity and mortality in the Philippines held in 1991 is described. The objective of the meeting was to define the status of women's health in the country and to prepare for a more comprehensive and developed implementation of local reproductive health services. The seminar honored the International Day of Action for Women's Health. Maternal mortality statistics show a rate of 1.1.1000 live births since 1988 vs. 2.1/1000 live births in 1980. Maternal mortality is greater among young 1st time mothers, among those with 5 children, and among those 40 years regardless of the number of children. Obstetric deaths account for 85% of all maternal deaths. The common causes in 1985-89 were hemorrhage, infection, and hypertensive disorders. Pulmonary disease and acute hepatitis account for indirect obstetric mortality. The prior period from 1984 to 1985 in Manila showed the leading causes to be puerpural sepsis, septic induced abortion, postpartum hemorrhage, and eclampsia. In Manila 33% deliver at home. 65% of hospital emergency cases involve women without prenatal care, and 1 out of 4 are dying upon admission and 1 out of 5 die within 5-6 hours. 58% died within 2 days after admission. 80% of these deaths were preventable. Lack of health education and inadequate diet due to poverty account for a major predisposing role. Confounding factors are anemia, tuberculosis, and parasitism. Broad risk factors are the inadequacy of health services and socioeconomic conditions. Proposals to reduce maternal mortality by 50% include focusing health programs on both mother and child, improving knowledge about prenatal care, improving the quality of prenatal care, and improving the quality of family planning (FP) services. Medical institutions need to maintain adequate supplies of equipment and supplies. Statistics and research are needed. Contraception for the health of the child was proposed as the appropriate tool for acceptance of FP. Competition for funds was a problem. Problems were also identified as the power imbalance between the sexes. High risk screening was recommended at the local level by the health worker. Workshops were formed and issues were identified, recommendations made, activities described, and the government and nongovernmental responses given.

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