On July 11, the world will celebrate World Population Day, and this year’s theme is:  “Family Planning:  Empowering People, Developing Nations”.

Managing the world’s fast population growth is an urgent concern that needs immediate attention. According to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) of the United Nations (UN), the world’s population numbered nearly 7.6 billion as of mid-2017. This implied that the world has added approximately one billion inhabitants over the last twelve years.

In 2015, the Philippine population was estimated at 101 million and Northern Mindanao has a 4.6 million population. The Philippines has 1.72 and Northern Mindanao has 1.68 population growth rates every five years. According to the Commission on Population Region 10, the regional population of Northern Mindanao will double in 2056 based on its current PGR.

This rapid increase of the Philippine population is mainly driven by a high unmet need for modern family planning (FP). Unmet need for modern FP, as defined by Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) law, refers to couples and women who are fecund and sexually active and want to limit or space their children but are not using any modern method of contraception.  In this issue, fingers can be pointed to lack of access to reproductive health information and services, lack of support from a spouse, and the myths and misconceptions about using modern FP methods.

To address this issue, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed Executive Order No. 12 (EO12) to attain and sustain zero unmet need for modern family planning. EO12 ensures strict implementation of the RPRH Law. RPRH law recognizes the right of Filipinos to decide freely and responsibly on their desired number and spacing of children, within the context of responsible parenthood and informed choice, and to access needed reproductive health care information and services.

EO12 mandates the Department of Health, the Commission on Population, the Department of Interior and Local Government, and the Local Government Units to work in close collaboration to intensify and accelerate the implementation of critical actions necessary to attain and sustain zero unmet need for modern family planning for all poor households by 2018 and all of Filipinos thereafter.

As a response to the EO 12, POPCOM 10 mobilizes all population officers, workers and volunteers in the region to conduct home visits to the barangays to link unmet need to family planning services.  Other initiatives done are the conduct of Orientation on EO 12 to local chief executives (LCEs) and airing of RPFP infomercials to local radio stations in the region.

As of the 1st semester of 2017, Northern Mindanao has a total of 3,219 couples with unmet for modern FP and 2,214 of these were already linked to family planning services. As to date, the region has a 55.85% contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR). CPR is the percent of married women of reproductive age who are using (or whose partner is using) a contraceptive method at a particular point in time.

For women to reach their full potential and be more economically productive, they must be able to exercise their right to decide for themselves whether, when or how often to have children