The Philippines, where an average of 11 women a day die giving birth, could lower its high maternal death rate by having a reproductive health policy, a visiting United Nations delegation said on Friday.
"The absence of a national reproductive health policy, especially for the poorest, is a vital concern," said Brian Bowler, leader of the delegation of six U.N. bodies.
However, he noted that religious views had to be considered in setting national laws. "The Philippines is a Catholic country, and as such it has very strong principles, and of course religion must be observed," said Bowler, who is Malawi's permanent representative to the U.N.
The Philippines has one of the Asia's fasted-growing populations, which is nearing 100 million people. It also has one of the region's highest rates of maternal deaths. The problem was particularly severe in Muslim communities on Mindanao island, where 320 mothers died per 100,000 live births -- double the national average, Bowler said.