From MDGs to SDGs: Maternal Health Must Remain Our Focus

**Mother and child enrolled in PhilHealth by Alay Foundation
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As the United Nation’s Open Working Group finalizes the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), Alay Foundation will continue to be an advocate for maternal health and family planning as the SDG’s are put in place to tackle the world’s most pressing problems.  
 
Addressing maternal mortality is a global imperative that requires a commitment of partnerships between governments, nonprofits, corporate sponsors and advocates around the world. A sharing of ideas, best practices, data, research, and outcomes is important to make a global impact on reducing maternal mortality ratios.  This sharing of knowledge with countries that are struggling to meet their target for reducing maternal mortality will benefit them through learning from the strategies of countries that are having great success in decreasing their nation’s MMR. 
While reducing the maternal mortality ratio makes an appearance in the  proposed Sustainable Development Goals, it is not a prominent goal such as it was with the Millennium Development Goals. We must work harder to keep the initiative of maternal health at the forefront of our advocacy work as we partner with other organizations and attempt to change harmful practices and beliefs that deter women and their families from optimal health.  While the birthing center’s construction is a few short months away, we are about to embark on our first comprehensive demographic research study to collect information that will allow us to tailor and structure our educational outreach programs in San Jose and the surrounding barangay to meet the needs of the people.
 
Alay Foundation eagerly anticipates the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and is prepared to embrace this next platform of goals to eradicate global poverty.  We will continue our work in the field advocating and educating women and families and are excited as we look forward to the opening of our of our birthing center and our upcoming events.

Saving Lives is NOT Controversial; Family Planning Access IS Essential

This is the third blog post in the Alay Foundation Series: Maternal Mortality Crisis in the Philippines.  Family planning is essential in preventing maternal mortality.
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Depending on where you travel in the United States and around the world, contraception remains a topic of contention.  A simple life-saving idea, such as birth control pills or condoms, provokes unprecedented controversy that skews the facts of modern medical science and politicizes the issue resulting in 356,000 maternal deaths 640,000 newborn deaths and prevent 70% of 20 million abortions every year globally. 
 
Between conservative legislative groups in both the United States and the Philippines, women continue to suffer from narrow policies that don’t fully account for their basic human rights.  Entrenched religious culture in the Philippines limits women and their families from determining the number and spacing of their children.  
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American foreign aid in the form of family planning finds itself reliant on the political cycles and climate in the US to the detriment of women worldwide. It is a woman’s right, and a family’s right, to have autonomy over their reproductive health and access to modern family planning methods in the form of contraception without interference.  
 
When women have access to contraception, it has a profound affect on human development overall.  Ted Turner, founder of CNN and United Nations Foundation, wrote an article “7 Billion Reasons to Empower Women,” which stated:
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“Universal access to voluntary family planning is a cross-cutting and cost-effective solution to achieving all of the Millennium Development Goals. In addition to reducing maternal mortality, providing voluntary family planning methods and education enables young women to avoid early pregnancy, allows more girls to attend school longer, makes it possible for women to have fewer, healthier children and helps break the inter-generational cycle of poverty. Additionally, it would reduce HIV transmission, empower women to pursue income-generating activities in their communities and promote environmental sustainability.”
 
It is sad, and unfortunate, that something as basic as contraception is shrouded in controversy and continues to be an obstacle for over 220 million women. Ensuring access to family planning is the best way to eradicate poverty worldwide.  Alay Foundation will be placing itself on the front lines, offering medically proven, life-changing basic family planning options to women and families with the opening of Mary’s Child Birthing & Women’s Center in San Jose, Philippines.  
 
Become part of the solution and join us in our efforts to bring family planning to women and families who need it most in the Philippines: Follow our blog, join the discussion and make a donation today: www.AlaySaBayan.org/support
 

Maternal Mortality Crisis in the Philippines and the Importance of Family Planning

This is the second blog post in the Alay Foundation Series: Maternal Mortality Crisis in the Philippines.  Family Planning is essential in preventing maternal mortality. 
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One of the major hurdles the world is facing in reducing maternal mortality is the lack of family planning, especially in developing countries and, more specifically, with disadvantaged women living in rural areas.  A lack of access to modern family planning methods prevents women and their partners from determining the size and future of their families.  This, in turn, affects maternal mortality rates, overall global poverty, and the number of girls who complete their education.
 
According to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), half of the estimated 3.4 million annual pregnancies in the Philippines are unplanned and one third are illegally aborted in unsafe procedures.  Furthermore, the fertility rates among the poor in the Philippines is three times higher than among the wealthy and educated.  On average poor women have two more children than they desire.  The UNFPA reports that “women who lack the power and means to decide how many children [to have] often become caught in a life-long downward cycle of poverty, exclusion, poor health, and even maternal death and disabilities.”  
 
Maternal mortality is more than a socio-economic problem.  It often precipitates crisis in the family as globally each year more than one million children are left motherless due to complications resulting in death during and after childbirth.  This figure represents a devastating experience that further burdens already struggling families as they must find the means to care for the children left behind.  
 
Alay Foundation recognizes that family planning is crucial for women and men in order to choose the number and/or spacing of their children.  Our birthing center, Mary’s Child Birthing & Women’s Center, in San Jose will offer basic contraceptives such as free birth control and condoms and will be able to offer referrals to facilities that provide comprehensive family planning services.  We believe it is the right of every woman and her family to have access to family planning options. When women and their partners have the ability to choose if, when, and how many children to have, families and communities are stabilized.  

MDG Countdown: Alay Foundation Responds

This is the first blog post in a series ‘Maternal Mortality Crisis in the Philippines’ that will concentrate specifically on MDG 5: Improving Maternal Mortality and how Alay Foundation plans to address the crisis in the Philippines and improve lives for women throughout the San Jose area of the Philippines.  

 

As the 500-day countdown for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) has just begun, the world has seen improvement and promise in achieving some of the MDG’s by 2015. In fact, there has been much progess on the eight MDG’s that were established in 2000 to improve the lives of the world’s poorest by 2015, such as access to safe drinking water and a reduction in global poverty rates.  Unfortunately, MDG 5, comprised of two parts focused on improving maternal health, the fist of which aims to “reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio,” is one of the furthest goals from being reached.  

Although the global maternal mortality ratio has decreased by 45 percent, this number is still unacceptably high: 289,000 women died during pregnancy and childbirth in 2013, deaths that have left families in turmoil and children motherless. The vast majority of these deaths could have been easily avoided with the proper access to health care and family planning.  

The situation in the Philippines is dire.  The Philippines has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in all of Asia and will not meet the target number of 52 deaths per 100,000 live births.  As of 2011, the most current statistics for MDG 5 in the Philippines, 221 women die each year in childbirth for every 100,000 live births.    

Alay Foundation will address maternal mortality in the Philippines with the building of our first facility, Mary’s Child Birthing and Women’s Center.  The designs for the medical facility are in the final production stages and will soon be submitted to the Philippine Department of Health for approval. The birthing center will be a modern medical facility with two private delivery rooms, one four-bed semi-private recovery room, and a consultation room where women can meet with a trained health professional and receive free pregnancy and STD screenings and basic family planning services.  

The birthing center will be built across the street from one of San Jose’s most respected hospitals, the Heart of Jesus Hospital.  Alay Foundation has a working relationship with the hospital and any obstetric emergencies that can not be handled on-site will be transferred to the Heart of Jesus Hospital, ensuring the best patient care available in the Philippines.  

Alay Foundation is committed to ending preventable maternal mortality in the Philippines.  We believe that no woman should die giving birth to the next generation.  Mary’s Child Birthing and Women’s Center will be a vital community resource for women throughout the San Jose NE area of the Philippines.  

Please join us in helping the women and families in the Philippines by donating today.