It may be more fun in the Philippines for tourists, but apparently not for mothers?
U.S.-based children's welfare advocacy group Save the Children urged Congress on Tuesday to pass the Reproductive Health Bill, saying the Philippines has already become a bad place to become a mother.
On Save the Children's latest State of the World's Mother's Report, Philippines slipped to 52nd from 49th last year. The index is based on maternal health, education, economic status, and child 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, said.
She said around 40 percent of Filipina women give birth without the assistance of a skilled attendant while just half use "effective contraceptives."
Save the Children also urged government support for breastfeeding programs, saying Filipina mothers can help ensure their children's nutrition that way.
"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," Lindenfors said.
Save the Children said their statistics suggest mothers who grew up malnourished will likely also have babies who are underweight.
Save the Children said that if things go unchanged, the Philippines will fail to meet the Millennium Development Goal to reduce maternal deaths by 75 percent in 2015.
"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," it said.
Versions of the RH Bill have yet to hurdle debates in Congress. Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, who opposes the bill, has said debates will have to be moved to July to make way for other legislation. He also said senators still have questions about the bill.
According to an advisory from the office of Senator Pia Cayetano, sponsor of the RH Bill, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III has reserved time on Wednesday's legislative sessions for interpellation on the bill.
The US State Department renewed its warning about the risks of travel to the Philippines, in particular to the Sulu archipelago, certain regions and cities of Mindanao and the southern Sulu Sea area. In an update on Wednesday of a travel warning it issued Nov. 20, 2014, the State Department said US citizens should continue to defer non-essential travel to the Sulu archipelago due to the high threat of kidnapping of international travelers and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism there. …