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Grappling with a population boom, the maternity ward at the Jose Favella Hospital in the Philippine capital of Manila is one of the busiest in the world, with an average of 60 births per day. No other hospital in the country has a higher birth rate.
To ensure that mothers are given the right child after giving birth, nurses attach two identification tags to newborns on their ankles and wrists. In the past three decades, the country’s population has more than doubled from 45 million to 100 million.
Because of the staggering birth rate in the Philippines, there are typically more patients in the maternity ward at the Jose Favella Hospital than there are resources to treat them, the hospital’s chief obstetrician, Dr. Silvia de La Paz said. Credit: Mark Litke/NewsHour
Because families in the Philippines, Asia’s most Catholic country, have had little or no access to contraception or family planning advice, they often get larger every year, experts note. Credit: Mark Litke/NewsHour
The population is growing fastest among the poorest Filipinos who can’t afford contraception, officials say. Credit: Mark Litke/NewsHour
Because so many give birth daily at the hospital, nurses are forced to put to beds together for four mothers and four newborns, called a “tandem bed.” Credit: Mark Litke/NewsHour
Mothers rest with their newborns on tandem beds in the maternity ward of the Jose Favella Hospital in Manila. Credit: Mark Litke/NewsHour
Janice Dario, 19, just had her second baby. A third of all 19-year-olds in the Philippines already have a child or are pregnant with their first, according to the United Nations Population Fund. Credit: Mark Litke/NewsHour
Overpopulation in the Philippines means many new mothers will go from a short stay in overcrowded hospital wards back to life in the teeming slums of the city. Credit: Mark Litke/NewsHour
Watch our full broadcast report on reproductive health from the Philippines:
Brian Epstein is an award-winning producer and cameraman. His work has been honored with an Emmy Award, three Emmy nominations, the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Investigative Reporting, the Scripps Howard Award for in-depth-reporting, as well as others. Brian has reported from the Middle East, Central and South America, Asia, and across the United States. Prior to joining NewsHour, Brian produced for Need to Know on PBS and NOW on PBS.
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