September 4, 2011
Stop using outdated data to mislead lawmakers!
This is a rejoinder to the statement by pro-RH groups RHAN, Likhaan, and DSWP in which they accused those questioning the “11 a day” statistic of “belittling” maternal deaths. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The August 24 news item cited by the pro-RH lobby clearly says: “F4L (Filipinos For Life) clarified that it does not downplay the problem of maternal deaths, stating that ‘it is a problem that needs concrete solutions, like more birthing centers and midwives. But we should guard against the excessive emotional use of the outdated statistic to influence Philippine government policy.”
Questioning the data peddled by RHAN-Likhaan-DSWP is far from belittling the problem of maternal deaths.
The issue at hand is the pro-RH lobby’s emotional and exclusive use of “11 maternal deaths a day” to scare lawmakers into spending billions of pesos in taxpayers’ money for its contraception and sterilization agenda.
The pro-RH statistic is clearly outdated as attested by not one, not two, but three sets of data. If RHAN-Likhaan-DSWP cared to look elsewhere, they would have found that we had also cited the September 2010 report of the World Health Organization (WHO), Unicef, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the World Bank, which estimated annual maternal deaths in the Philippines at 2,100 in 2008. That is equivalent to 5.75 deaths a day, a completely different level than “11 a day.” This was clearly down from the 2000 level of 4,100, or 11.2 a day, which was published in a report seven years ago by the same international agencies.
We are astounded that the pro-RH lobby had to go to great lengths to justify the excessive and
exclusive use of “11 a day.” We wonder why the figure is now attributed to government statistical agencies, when before, credit was given to the UNFPA and other international bodies. Did the lobbyists misrepresent old data as current? There is a word for that: disingenuous.
At any rate, it now appears that the range of daily maternal deaths is a wide one – anywhere from 6.5 to 11.1. It can be six, it can be 11 (a nice, double-digit figure for PR purposes, especially). But lawmakers should have been informed ahead of floor debates that the numbers have changed significantly. Thanks to poor research by the RH lobby, they were caught using old data.
In finally allowing the public to examine what went into the pudding, RHAN-Likhaan-DSWP produced a bloated estimate of live births. The population projections, it should be noted, came from a census conducted 11 years ago.
We suggest using the latest available data. The UN Population Division’s estimates were released just recently, and should be more reliable. The UN data is “estimated to be consistent with the latest census” (2007).
Combining the female reproductive age population with age-specific fertility rates, we estimated live births for 2010 of 2,276,171 (See Annex). To check, we used the UN’s crude birth rate and arrived at 2,284,895.
With the higher figure for 2010 births, nowhere does 11 appear in the range of estimates for daily maternal deaths using maternal mortality ratios or MMRs (deaths per 100,000 live births) from three sources: the National Statistical Coordination Board; the WHO, UNFPA and other agencies; and the 2010 study in The Lancet by Hogan, et. al.
MMRs from The Lancet yielded 3-8 deaths a day; the WHO MMRs yielded 4-8 a day. The Lancet article was published in April 2010; RH bill author Rep. Edcel Lagman should have been informed of the new study before he filed the bill on July 1, 2010. The least that RHAN-Likhaan-DSWP could do is apologize to our lawmakers for the disservice.
RHAN-Likhaan-DSWP’s solution to the problem of maternal deaths defies logic: prevent pregnancies.
We believe the problem of maternal deaths can be solved by improving health care, such as by putting up more birthing centers and hiring more midwives (which can be done without the RH bill). The truth is, maternal deaths have gone down significantly even without the highly objectionable and divisive RH bill.