Maternal mortality rises in Philippines

Fertility rates have been falling in the Philippines for the past ten years, but more mothers are dying during childbirth.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports that the nation's total fertility rate has been more than cut in half since 1960, having fallen from 7.2 to 3.1 births per woman between then and 2010.

Rates are set to fall even further in coming decades, so that the average woman could give birth anywhere from 1.73 to 2.31 times in 2030-2040. But the country is still struggling with its fertility rate, which is higher than anywhere else in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Now figures also show that more mothers have been dying in childbirth over the past decade, but officials say they are struggling to reduce this figure because the fertility rate is still so high. Director of the nation’s National Economic and Development Authority Arsenio Balisacan says that high fertility has put the Filipino health services under considerable strain, making it tougher to provide mothers with all of the medical help and support they need. “[This reflects] the urgency [of] aggressively implementing reforms in the health sector in order to ensure equitable access to quality healthcare,” he told the Daily Inquirer.