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Q&A with Philip Carrol: Mothers in the Philippines

  • Frances Alonzo

FILE - Danica Camacho is cuddled by her mother as they are wheeled out of the delivery room of the Government's Fabella Hospital moments after she was born October 31, 2011, in the Philippines.

FILE - Danica Camacho is cuddled by her mother as they are wheeled out of the delivery room of the Government's Fabella Hospital moments after she was born October 31, 2011, in the Philippines.

The 15th annual State of the World’s Mothers report from Save the Children focuses on “mothers in crisis.” One of the organization's case studies is the Philippines, where it looks at the 6-month anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan. Save the Children spokesman Philip Carroll told VOA's Frances Alonzo that disaster preparedness is key to keeping the Philippines from backsliding on gains it has made on improving the health of mothers and their children.

CARROLL: State of the World’s Mothers report is now in its 15th year. And we started this because we know that for children to be healthy, their mothers need to be healthy. And so each year we have a different theme. This year we decided to focus on moms in crisis. These crises can be anything from emergencies, natural disasters, civil wars. And we decided to focus on four different case studies. And one of those case studies is the Philippines. And, as you know, the Philippines has been through so much. Year after year they get pounded by cyclone after cyclone, typhoon after typhoon, and it’s really hard for the Philippines to continue the gains they’ve made in terms of women’s and children’s health without focusing on disaster preparedness.

ALONZO: What did you find in the Philippines?

CARROLL: The Typhoon Haiyan was one of the deadliest typhoons ever to hit land. And it’s unfortunate that it happens in this region of the world where the health infrastructure just isn’t prepared for disasters like this. We know that children have special needs and when we go in and we see that those needs aren’t really being fulfilled, and we want to make sure that the general public knows that this is a real problem and things will not get better unless we make the right investments in emergency readiness.

ALONZO: What are those investments? What can be seen or what can happen in the Philippines to better prepare mothers and health care professionals?

CARROLL: There’s not a quick fix unfortunately. So the best thing we can do is to start raising awareness about what it’s like to be in these sorts of emergencies. We have to make sure that there are disaster relief funds available. In the situation of the Philippines, they are on track to meet key Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5. So, that’s the children’s development goal and the women’s development goal. And unfortunately, they will start to backslide if we don’t focus on ways to keep the Philippines secure from disasters that will happen every year.

ALONZO: So you mention money and awareness, is that enough?

CARROLL: You know it’s not. I think we have to also work with our policy makers to change policies and its education, its awareness, it’s obviously raising money to make sure that communities are ready to deal with these kinds of disasters.

ALONZO: This report - is it only geared towards policy makers and those in public administration or can the regular person right off the street gain information from this report?

CARROLL: No, absolutely, I think the general public really needs to know about what’s happening to moms in crisis. And you can visit You’ll be able to see on our home page the full report, some key calls to action. I think we want to make sure that those countries that have been at the bottom of those index, that this isn’t something that continues in perpetuity. We want to make sure that those countries, we are hearing the cries of the mothers and the children in those countries and hopefully in the next 15 years, we’ll see them come out of the ashes. I think that a country like Afghanistan, which just a few years ago was at the bottom of our index, has moved up 32 places. And this is due in part to investment in midwives so that mothers don’t have to give birth alone, to changing policies on education, to making sure more girls attend school and providing life-saving immunizations and other health measures for young children. So, we do know that success is possible. And we can see more success stories like Afghanistan.

ALONZO: Is that the only country in Asia that is one of the bright spots that have actually made changes and made strides?

CARROLL: No. We can see a country like Nepal. Nepal was a country that was ravaged by conflict. And they have actually done a lot to improve the health of mothers and children. And I think there are other examples throughout the world but Nepal and Afghanistan are two countries in Asia that with strategic investments have been able to move up the rankings. So, we know success is possible. We know that countries don’t have to stay at the bottom ten and that there is hope for these mothers and their children.