Every year, at least ten percent of all births in the Philippines involving premature babies are caused in part by the relative deficient nature of prenatal care available to the poor. At least thirty percent of these premature babies develop retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) a disease that causes abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina from excessive oxygenation. If the affliction is not treated within 48 hours of diagnosis these premature babies become permanently blind.
For example, at a government maternal and newborn tertiary hospital in the heart of Metropolitan Manila, more than 1,000 premature babies develop retinopathy of prematurity and become blind every year. Multiply this by the number of hospitals in the country and the relatively high birth rate in the Philippines and the case becomes alarming.
Many hospitals in the Philippines are not as thoroughly familiar with retinopathy of prematurity. Many local ophthalmologists and other medical practitioners may not have the proper training and hospitals may not have the appropriate equipment to recognize, diagnose and treat the affliction in a timely manner to prevent blindness. There is a disproportionate number of newborns from poor families who develop retinopathy from prematurity. The Campaign for Filipino Children recognizes that addressing this concern head-on is not only a health issue but an economic one.