Press Release
August 13, 2009

Accelerate efforts on maternal and newborn deaths prevention
thru research - Angara

Senator Edgardo J. Angara worries that Filipinos' access to health care system, although guaranteed by the 1987 Constitution, is still hampered by financial, physical, social and cultural barriers.

"To help achieve the country's vision of universal primary health care services, it is not enough to be contented with the present capacity of the country's health care system. It is important to build the country's capability for research and development because these can fuel the necessary innovation that will lead to a responsive and efficient health care system," said Angara who chairs the Senate Committee on Finance.

He added, "To achieve this, the country must provide for a favorable research environment wherein government agencies, non-government organizations, public and private hospitals, academic institutions and private agencies can optimize their research activities. However, a closer scrutiny at the present system would reveal that current researches are uncoordinated, fragmented and duplicated which precludes the optimal use of time, effort and resources."

According to United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in its State of the World's Children 2009 report, the Philippines is among 68 countries, which contributed to 97 percent of maternal, neonatal and child health deaths worldwide.

The report concluded that a child born in a developing country is more likely to be in a disadvantaged position in terms of survival. A child born in developing countries like the Philippines is almost 14 times more likely to die during the first month of life.

Statistics show that almost half of the deaths of Filipino children under five years old is within the first 28 days of life.

Worse, maternal health in the country is also far from other developed country's statistics. A staggering one in every 140 pregnant women dies in childbirth in the Philippines.

According to UNICEF, complications in childbirth are brought by hemorrhage, sepsis, hypertension and abortive outcomes, which are actually preventable.

Angara, who filed SB 2592, proposed the establishment of a Philippine National Health Research System that will address current problems in the health sector by institutionalizing the Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) and create the Philippine National Health Research Fund (PNHRF). PNHRS if recognized and institutionalized by statutory mandate shall serve the following functions:

Develop a national and global network of researchers, research; Build capacities for health research and development activities; Produce new knowledge through research; organizations, and other members of the health research community; Secure sustainable financing for health research and development; Encourage individuals to pursue research as a career; Inculcate internationally and culturally accepted ethical standards and principles especially in researches involving human subjects and participants; Deepen the involvement of stakeholders; Ensure public access to the information and other outputs generated by the health research systems; and Encourage the utilization of research results in the form of products, technologies, programs and services.

Angara, principal author of the PhilHealth Act, emphasized the need to shore up our capacities and invest on research initiatives. This, he said, would accelerate our efforts to prevent maternal and new-born deaths.

"Our country's ability to ensure optimum health for every Filipino hinges on the degree of priority we grant to health research and development (R & D) activities. What we aim is to oblige a number of government institutions to allocate a particular portion of their gross annual revenue or charge additional fees for health research and development activities," added Angara.

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