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$28.5M raised for PHL reproductive and maternal health goals–UNFPA

May 18, 2012 7:15pm
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on Friday disclosed that its Philippine office raised $28.5 million in the year to date, and that the money will be used to promote reproductive and maternal health, one of the country’s Millennium Development Goals.
“For the current seventh country program which started this year and will end in 2016, around $28.5 million has been mobilized and we are expecting more,” UNFPA country representative Ugochi Daniels told reporters in a press conference.
“[The fund] will assist the government in the areas which provide support for maternal and reproductive health of mothers,” UNFPA executive director Babatunde Osotimehin said in the same press conference.
He noted the fund will be used for “capacity-building” training and “data gathering” in partnership with the Philippine government.
UNFPA is tasked is to help countries in attaining the fifth Millennium Development Goal (MDG 5) to reduce maternal mortality rate and to achieve universal access to reproductive health.
Since the Aquino administration held the reins of government in 2010, Daniels revealed that UNFPA has been helping the conditional cash transfer program–an initiative to provide indigent households with monthly allowances provided that their children go to school and mothers have regular check ups at the local health center.
Government investments in maternal health yield about six-folds in returns, providing “good economic sense,” Daniels noted.
“For every $1 spent by UNFPA, the Philippine government saves $5.7 in health care cost,” the UNFPA Philippine country director claimed, citing UNFPA’s P602 million investment in public health yielded P3.4 billion in savings for the state.
Through the tie up, Daniels added, “930 maternal deaths have been averted through life-saving skills trainings conducted for doctors, midwives and nurses.”
She added that 628,098 unintended pregnancies and 213,533 abortions have been prevented as about 1.7 million men and women have been given access to contraceptives under the CCT.
In 10 provinces under the UNFPA country program last year, Daniels said, 54,000 births have been made safer for poor mothers.
“There is continuous progress in MDG 5 in this country. We continue to see the commitment,” the UNFPA executive director said lauding the Aquino government’s significant increase in health budget for the year.
Although Osotimehin said the country is “moving optimal” toward MDG 5, but noted that maternal and reproductive health care may be the least achievable in 2015 compared with other MDGs.
To attain MDG 5, he noted, “First, [the country] should have a very good public policy. It should have training for capacity building. It should ensure that the commodities and service are there (facilities, contraceptives). And, the services should be close to people.”
“Finally, the country should make sure that the mother or the pregnant woman can afford it (services and commodities),” he added.
In the Philippines, he said that the biggest hindrance to MDG 5 is the “rapidity to deploy people” such as doctors, midwives and nurses who will provide the services.
Osotimehin said the countries that are making “considerable” improvement in addressing MDG 5 include Bangladesh, Romania, Bulgaria, Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal, Belarus, and Iran.
The other MDGs include poverty alleviation, universal education, gender equality, child health, combating HIV/AIDS, environmental sustainability and global partnership. —VS, GMA News
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