Save the Children calls for immediate and urgent passage of the Reproductive Health Bill in the Philippines, after dropping down the list of the Mother’s Index in the Annual State of the World’s Mothers Report.

Press Release  •  May 08, 2012 13:01 SGT

The Philippines has dropped three spots down the Mother’s Index in Save the Children’s thirteenth State of the World’s Mothers report. The index, which ranks 165 countries for being the best and worst places in the world to be a mother, has placed the Philippines in 52nd position under the developing countries category, down from 49th in 2011.

Overall, the report showed that Niger is the worst place to be a mother – replacing Afghanistan for the first time in two years – while Norway comes in at first place for the third consecutive year. The ranking is based on a combination of factors such as maternal health, education and economic status, as well as critical child indicators like health and nutrition.

“The new ranking is evidence of the continued deterioration of women’s and maternal health in the Philippines. There is a lack of investment on family planning education and effective contraception, as well as inadequate access to affordable reproductive and maternal health services, all of which needs immediate attention,” said Anna Lindenfors, Save the Children’s country director in the Philippines. “Nearly four in ten women deliver their children without a skilled attendant present and just half of the women in the Philippines use effective contraceptives.”

At its current trajectory, the Philippines will not meet its United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of reducing maternal mortality ratio by three quarters by 2015. Save the Children now calls on the government for the urgent and immediate passage of the Reproductive Health Bill, which will help to ensure women have access to reproductive health services.  The passage of the RH Bill will also ensure that the government will invest in having adequate number of midwives, community health workers, emergency obstetric care facilities, mobile health services and maternal healthcare benefits.

In addition to healthcare infrastructure, State of the World’s Mothers also revealed the importance of nutrition among women and children in determining their wellbeing. It details a vicious cycle of how mothers, who may have been stunted in childhood, go on to give birth to underweight babies who have not been adequately nourished in the womb.

Save the Children’s research shows that the simple measure of supporting mothers to breastfeed can improve the nutritional status of children and save a million children’s lives a year. It added that the best method for breaking this vicious cycle and protecting the pregnant mother and her baby from malnutrition is to focus on the first 1000 days starting from pregnancy. Just one in three babies in the Philippines is exclusively breastfed for the first six months.

Anna Lindenfors said: “Our report shows that a single nutrition intervention can help prevent stunting in children. Policies and programs must be put in place in to ensure all mothers have the support they need to choose to breastfeed if they want to. Acting now not only saves lives, but saves dollars as well.”

Individuals wanting to join EVERY ONE, Save the Children’s Newborn and Child Survival campaign can visit www.savethechildren.net and sign our petition to help world leaders commit to saving children's lives. This website will also host the charity’s live interactive video conference discussing Motherhood on the 8th May with high-profile Global Mothers.

-ENDS –

For more information, and for graphics and charts, social media assets, case studies, photos, footage or interviews, please contact Angel Saceda at +63 9178590759 or angel.saceda@savethechildren.org.

For a full copy of the report and additional information, visit savethechildren.org/nutrition

Notes to Editors

Globally, malnutrition claims more than 2.6 million young lives each year, and, of those who survive, 171 million face a #hiddencrisis of chronic malnutrition which stunts their physical and mental growth and leaves them unable to ever reach their full potential.

The direct cost of the malnutrition crisis, affecting both the developed and developing world, is estimated at $20 to $30 billion per year.

In a number of countries – including Cambodia, Malawi and Nepal – health workers have contributed to broad-scale success in fighting malnutrition and saving lives.

Country Comparisons: Philippines/Norway

- Almost 100% of births are attended by skilled health personnel in Norway compared to 62% in the Philippines

- A girl will receive on average 18 years of formal education in Norway versus 12 years in the Philippines

- 82% of Norwegian women use modern contraception compared to 51% of women in the Philippines

- A child's risk of death in Norway is 1/333 compared to 1/34 in the Philippines

- In Norway, the risk of maternal death is 1/7,600. In the Philippines, 1 woman in 320 will die from pregnancy related causes

- In Norway, nearly 40 % of parliamentary seats are held by women; in the Philippines only 22%

Save the Children works in 120 countries. We save children's lives. We fight for their rights. We help them fulfil their potential.

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