June 11, 2020
As the country shifts due to the drastic changes brought by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the public is forced to take every precaution to prevent the spread of the disease which includes social and physical distancing and other public health measures. The Commission on Population and Development-Region X adapts the new trend of communicating and coordinating with local population officers to achieve the goals of the Philippine Population Management Program (PPMP). After all, there is a far more need to strengthen the population program especially family planning to make sure that the next survey will not reveal a rising fertility rate as a result of unintended pregnancies during the time couples are inseparable day and night during the quarantine period.
On June 4, 2020, POPCOM-X conducted its first Regional Population Management Committee Online Conference. The activity was attended by 12 provincial and city population officers of Region 10. The objective of the meeting was to know the situation of the LGUs in terms of the implementation of community quarantine and the status of implementation of the different PPMP component programs at the provincial and city level. Through this, POPCOM-X was able to gauge the accomplishments of the LGUs and address operational issues and concerns.
The new guidelines for the demand generation activities were also presented, with strict compliance to the guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) on the implementation of community quarantines in the country. The presentation highlights the number of persons to be gathered during classes and outreach programs and the increase in mobilization allowances taking into account the hazards of conducting home visits and classes amidst the COVID-19 situation. All local population workers were encouraged to observe and follow strict health protocols in implementing the programs to ensure safety for themselves and for the clients.
POPCOM-X Regional Director Jeremias C. Gupit presented the Demographic Vulnerability Tool which will greatly help LGUs, especially during this health crisis. The tool is used to identify high-risk areas using four indicators which are: 1. Number of housing units with an area of less than 20 square meters; 2. Number of individuals living in a housing unit with an area of less than 20 square meters; Number of senior citizens who are living in a housing unit with an area of less than 20 square meters; and Number of senior citizens who are living alone and living in a housing unit with an area of less than 20 square meters.
With the data on vulnerability presented in the tool, LGUs will be able to efficiently implement minimum health standards and plan relief and health operations in areas that need to be prioritized. LGUs can readily set up necessary measures to ensure that widespread of infection is prevented, especially in places with known local transmission.
With the ongoing quarantine protocols implemented in all provinces, municipalities, and cities, POPCOM-X is committed to continue the efforts it has started in the first quarter of this year. With close coordination with local population officers, strategies in line with responsible parenthood and family planning, adolescent health and development, and POPDEV integration will endure even amidst the public health emergency brought about by COVID-19.