The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Philippines reports an increase of maternal deaths during the past two years in the Philippines.
In 2019, 1458 women died of maternal causes; this number increased to 2,478 in 2021. That is around 6 to 7 Filipino women dying daily due to childbirth. During emergencies, when access to maternal health services is disrupted, more women die during pregnancy and childbirth.
Women die because sexual and reproductive health services are unavailable, inaccessible, unaffordable or of poor quality. Human resources are also scarce. There are not enough trained health care workers that provide quality sexual and reproductive health information and services. For every 1,300 women and girls in reproductive age, there is only one public health midwife. In the Philippines, 14% of pregnant women do not get regular check-ups and the other necessary medical care that they need during their pregnancy. One in 10 women do not give birth in health facilities or receive assistance from skilled healthcare personnel during childbirth.
The top 5 causes of maternal deaths included complications in pregnancy, childbirth and puerperium, eclampsia, pre-eclampsia, and hemorrhage. Many of these deaths are preventable if only there were accessible proper medical interventions and adequate health-care systems that are also resilient to emergencies.
The high cost of health care makes it more inaccessible to poor Filipinos. According to the 2021 National Health Expenditure Survey, Filipinos in rural areas pay more for health care services and medicines compared to those living in urban areas and those with better income.