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US development assistance helps cut child mortality in the Philippines

Cheryl Ravelo / Reuters

Women breastfeed their newborn babies inside the maternity ward of the government run Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila on June 1. The ward, the busiest in the country, sees an average of 60 births a day. The Philippines' population growth rate of around 2.0 percent is above Southeast Asia's average of around 1.7 percent, with an estimated 200 babies born every hour. Lack of a national policy on birth control and access to modern family planning methods - frowned upon by the powerful Catholic church - are some of the factors that have led to the country's population ballooning to nearly 100 million, according to various government and private sector estimates, with the Philippines the second most populous nation in the region after Indonesia.

I've been looking a bit further at the report cited by my colleague Katie Cannon in yesterday's post, Afghanistan is statistically the worst place to be a mother.

According to Save the Children, the Philippines, where these pictures were taken, was among 15 countries that were top recipients of assistance for mothers and children from USAID between 1990 and 2009. On average, these countries cut child mortality by 47 percent during that same time period. Thanks in part to U.S. assistance, the Phillipines and eight more of those countries are on track to achieve the United Nations goal of cutting child deaths by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015.

Download the full Mothers' Index (link opens PDF file).

Cheryl Ravelo / Reuters

Women share beds as they rest inside the maternity ward of the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila on June 1.