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PIA Press Release

DOH: Cordillera's cervical cancer and maternal mortality remains high

by Lito Dar

Baguio City (15 May) -- For this month of May, the Department of Health's (DOH) programs focus on women's health as the country commemorates Cervical Awareness Month, Safe Motherhood Week and Natural Family Planning Month.

In a Kapihan forum Thursday, Center for Health and Development (CHD-CAR) Family Health Cluster Head, Dr. Virginia Narciso stressed that the region's maternal mortality rate remains high.

According to Narciso, based on the Millenium Development Goal (MDG) that the country aims to achieve by 2015, the country's maternal mortality rate remains high.

Cordillera's maternal mortality rate stands at 80 deaths per 100,000 live births. This is above the MDG commitment to reduce it to 52 per 100,000 live births by 2015.

Relative to this, CHD-CAR is continuously intensifying its program on maternal health.

Narciso bared that the Health Department is now focus on improving government hospitals delivery and neo-natal care facility and on capacity building program for community health workers and women's health team in terms of basic emergency obstetrics and neo-natal care trainings.

Narciso stressed that in Cordillera, it is the capacity building of frontline health workers that needs to be given more focus, rather than the ratio of doctors or midwives to the number of expectant mothers because there are many far flung areas which are hard to reach or at far distance from health facilities.

Another women's health issue that the Health Department is giving focus on is cervical cancer. According to CHD-CAR Non-communicable Disease Cluster Head, Dr. Luisa Paran, cervical cancer remains the second leading cause of death among women in the country, second only to breast cancer.

In the city alone, based on the data of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, cervical cancer steadily increased in the past years. From 74 cases in 2006, it increased to 81 in 2007, 83 in 2008 and even more than doubled in 2009 with 170 cases.

According to Narciso, cervical cancer is preventable, thus, she is advising women to have a regular Papsmear as the disease emanates from trauma in a woman's reproductive system or on a virus that thrives in a woman's pelvix, which is usually transmitted sexually. Among the risk factor Narciso mentioned are multiple sexual partners either by the woman or his male partner, multiple pregnancy and low immune system.

Dr. Narciso also announced that CHD-CAR in partnership with BGHMC will be conducting a free Papsmear program on May 26.

Meanwhile, the government is also advocating the recommendable birth spacing of three years. According to Commission on Population (POPCOM) Regional Director Aurora Quiray, the government, through their office, is part of the Responsible Parenting Movement, through the advocacy on Natural Family Planning.

POPCOM targets to give Responsible Parenting and Natural Family Planning method to about 55,000 couples. So far, they have already reached out to 42,255 couples. (PIA) [top]

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