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Manila, Philippines – The risk of maternal death is twice as likely for teenage girls than for women in their 20s, Save the Children says. In a new report released this week, Every Woman’s Right, the international organisation focusing on child rights added that 50,000 teenage girls worldwide die during pregnancy or childbirth, often because their bodies are not yet fully developed.
The Philippines has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancies in the ASEAN region, and the number has grown by 70 per cent over the last decade. According to the 2011 UNFPA report, 53 births per 1,000 women are from girls between the age of 15 and 19.
Anna Lindenfors, country director for Save the Children in the Philippines, said: “A woman’s body takes time to develop. With proper reproductive health services, including appropriate family planning services, we can prevent the deaths of teenage children in the Philippines who are dying in childbirth because their bodies are not ready for it. The Reproductive Health bill is a crucial part of the solution, and it needs to be passed with urgency.”
At its current trajectory, the Philippines will not reach its UN Millennium Development goal target of reducing maternal mortality by three-quarters in 2015. As of 2010, maternal mortality has been reduced by just one-fifth. Contraceptive prevalence has increased by just 10 per cent in last 15 years.
Every Woman’s Right also revealed that babies born to young mothers face far greater risk of death than mothers who are older. This has resulted in one million babies dying a year, which accounts for one-fifth of the global infant death total.
“The evidence supporting the need for reproductive health services, including family planning services exists: If a mother is under 18 years old, her baby’s chance of dying in the first year of life is 60% higher than that of a baby born to a mother older than 19,” said Anna Lindenfors. “No girl should die giving birth, and no child should die because its mother is too young.”
The UK government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in partnership with UNFPA, national governments, donors, civil society, the private sector and others, will gather at the London Summit on Family Planning on July 11th 2012, to support the right of women and girls to decide on the number of children they have. Globally, one in four births is unintended because 222 million girls and women in developing countries who want to delay or avoid having children do not have access to effective methods of contraception.
“Maternal and infant mortality rates will not improve if we do not take any action to increase family planning services. We know that children and mothers survive better if women had children when their bodies are fully developed and their subsequent pregnancies were spaced apart,” said Anna Lindenfors. “Urgent action needs to be taken to prevent such deaths.”
Among the report’s recommendations are:
- Investment in family planning commodities
- Investment in long-term recruitment, training, remuneration and support of sufficient health workers
- Ensure that contraception is accessible and affordable, and that the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable women are addressed
- Investment in education to increase the number of girls who regularly attend school
- Ensure that the right laws and policies are in place to guarantee women’s rights, secure women’s and girls’ equal status in society and cater for women’s specific reproductive health needs
For more information, the full report and/or interviews, please contact Angel Saceda at +63 9178590759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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