July 9, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the health care systems globally and caused serious challenges in terms of provision of reproductive health information and services especially in the Philippines. This has resulted to an estimated 214,000 unintended pregnancy in 2020.
In celebration of the World Population Day (WPD) on July 11, 2021, the Commission on Population and Development, in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), renew its call for the prioritization of reproductive health in various levels and areas of the government. This, to ensure that the health sector, which is currently battling the pandemic, is given reinforcement in providing family planning (FP) information and services to couples and individuals.
The call of POPCOM and UNFPA is centered on the WPD’s theme this year which is: “Dynamic Demographics: To address population growth or decline, we need rights and choices at the center”.
In the Philippines, the total fertility rate (TFR) is 2.7 (NDHS, 2017) while Region 10’s TFR is 3.1 in the same year. This means that a Filipino woman is expected to have three (3) children within her reproductive or childbearing years (i.e. 15-49 years).
With high fertility rate, the country’s population is still expected to grow in the coming years but in a gradual manner. POPCOM explained that this is achieved through high contraceptive prevalence rate with 7.8 million Filipino women who are currently using modern FP methods. The family planning program has prevented around 2.8 million unintended pregnancies in 2019, which also averted 669,000 unsafe abortions and 1,470 maternal deaths.
Bold steps were taken by the government after President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order No. 12 to zero the unmet need for modern family planning; and recently the Executive Order No. 141 which tasks government departments and agencies to take as a national priority the measures that would address teenage pregnancy in the country.
It can also be recalled that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) approved the allocation of more than P300 million for the National Population Program on Family Planning (NPPFP) in 2019.
In wake of the ongoing pandemic, POPCOM X continuously coordinate with local government units (LGUs) by launching the house-to-house delivery of FP services. Through this, clients are able to access the services on sexual and reproductive health in their homes without concern on being infected by COVID-19.
Localization of the population program
Acknowledging the devolved powers of the LGUs, particularly on health, POPCOM is geared towards the full localization of the Philippine Population Management Program (PPMP). This bottom-to-top approach is intended to be an accelerator in achieving the demographic dividend of the country.
Early this year, POPCOM X has signed partnership agreements with different provinces and cities in the region and provides them the financial grant and technical assistance for the implementation of the PPMP programs at the local level. The provinces of Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, and Lanao Del Norte; and the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Gingoog, and El Salvador were parties of the agreement.
The responsible parenthood and family planning (RPFP), adolescent health and development (AHD), and population and development (POPDEV) integration are the three (3) program components of PPMP that aimed at achieving its goal of “Matatag, Maginhawa at Planadong Pamilyang Pilipino”.