Accurate, updated data key to effective maternal health interventions – Health Secretary Ona

“It is important to come up with updated and accurate data on the real number of mothers who died due to inadequate pre- and post- natal to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5, improving maternal health,” stressed Health Secretary Enrique Ona during the press conference of the 162 to 52 Health Summit last April 20, 2012 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

Based on 2008 figure, the country’s maternal death rate is at 162 per 100,000 live births. Currently, there are 22 priority areas, where 47 percent of the poorest families are located, contribute to the 39 percent of maternal deaths and 49 percent of infant deaths in the Philippines.

Coalition members acknowledged the need for accurate and up-to-date data to be able to determine high-risk priority areas for the implementation of necessary maternal health programs. “The current official figures on maternal mortality are already four years old. It’s very important to understand and to know where we are today. The status of the data must be very current so we could conduct proper interventions,” stressed Sec. Ona.

Governor Alfonso Umali, Jr. of Oriental Mindoro and President of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) agreed that a uniform, current data on mortality rates is important in achieving MDG 5. “We should start with the data to better address the maternal health problems in the country,” reiterated Gov. Umali.

To address the need for data system improvement, Sec. Ona recommended the use of modern information and communication technology (ICT).

“Tracking maternal mortality is a challenge and the need for fast and accurate information cannot be overemphasized. Use ICT in establishing a system that will allow timely and interactive flow of information for better delivery of maternal care services,” said Sec. Ona.