October 10, 2016
The struggle for the full and unrestrained implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law of 2012 (RA 10354) has reached a crucial level today as the Department of Health contests the recent Supreme Court decision of August 24, 2016 by filing a motion for reconsideration before the highest court. The SC decision, if uncontested, could put to a halt the most effective methods of the Family Planning program which is being implemented by the DOH and the Commission on Population (POPCOM) through local government units and civil society nationwide and lead to increased mortality and morbidity among women and infants.
“If carried out, the SC decision could result in over 900 additional maternal deaths every year arising from almost 1 million unintended pregnancies that could have been addressed by the full implementation of the Family Planning Program,” POPCOM Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez III asserted. “This would mean a 30% rise in maternal deaths in the country,” Dr Perez said.
Although the RH Law was passed in 2012 and its IRR approved in March 2013, there have been restraints through TROs on its implementation for 28 months in the last 3 and a half years.
On the Supreme Court decision denying the motion to lift the TRO on contraceptives
Delivered during the press conference and launch of the signature campaign for the lifting of TRO
POPCOM deems it as an unfortunate event for the agency, the advocates of the reproductive health, and the Filipinos we want to empower. But we will live with this challenge and implement the constitutional provisions of the Reproductive Health Law.
The decision impacts about 55% of women age 15-49 who were using contraceptives, based on the 2013 National Development Health Survey (NDHS) data.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Department of Reproductive Health and Research, contraceptives such as pill and patch yields 6-12 pregnancies per 100 women in a year while intrauterine device (IUD) and implant which was restricted produces less than 1 pregnancy per 100 women in a year. Meanwhile, condom is comparable to the least effectiveness of calendar method with 18 or more pregnancies per 100 women in a year.
Among reversible methods of birth control, intrauterine contraception and the contraceptive implant remain highly effective for years.
The question now is how we are going to provide the contraceptives needed by Filipinos banned by the TRO. Use of modern contraceptive methods by both the poor and non-poor women has been generally increasing during the past rounds of Family Development Sessions (FDS)
More importantly, the 2013 NDHS results reveal that unmet need for family planning (FP) among married women in the Philippines remains high at 18 percent, 7 percent for birth spacing and 11 percent for limiting births.
Meeting the zero unmet need and the availability of contraceptives for current users pose a huge challenge to Filipino men and women of reproductive age.
The SC decision resulted from lack of any clear and transparent procedure and rules for the determination of the safety and non-abortifacient character of the contraceptive drugs.
In the 24-page ruling of the SC second division, it directed the FDA to conduct a hearing to determine whether its administered contraceptive drugs and devices have abortifacient side effects.
With that, POPCOM supports the DOH and FDA in the fulfilment of the procedure and rules for the determination of the safety of the implants. #
Miguel Tanfelix is named U4U Ambassador
The Commission on Population (POPCOM) taps rising Kapuso actor Miguel Tanfelix as the Celebrity Ambassador of U4U, its flagship program for Filipino teens. POPCOM’s partnership with the teen star was formally launched during a press conference held last September 14, 2016 in Quezon City.
“This advocacy is all about respect for one’s self,” said 17-year old Tanfelix. “When a young person uses his or her own strengths and works on his or her own weaknesses, that person earns not only self-respect but also the trust of other people.”
POPCOM kicked off U4U in 2014 as an innovative caravan for teens and by teens. POPCOM executive director, Dr. Juan Antonio Perez said that U4U is one of several programs of the government aimed to fulfill the right of young Filipinos to accurate information.
Through its various face-to-face, mobile and social media platforms, U4U brings critical messages to millions of Filipino teenagers and help them make responsible decisions to prevent teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
“So far, we have brought these messages to over 4 million young Filipinos from Batanes to Maguindanao. Almost every week, U4U events are held in different parts of the country, in intimate or big open spaces,” Perez said. He also encouraged members of the press to share U4U’s mobile and online platforms with their young loved-ones.
HIV/AIDS on the rise
The Philippines recorded the highest number of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases in June.
According to the Department of Health, there were 841 new cases of HIV in June 2016, breaking the 804 cases recorded in January of the same year.
A total of 777 of the cases or more than 90 percent were transmitted through sexual contact, majority of them among men who have sex with men. 60 new cases are related to injecting drug users while the remaining 4 cases were of mother-to-child transmission.
HIV is a virus that destroys the human body’s natural defense against diseases or infection, causing the immune system to weaken and not function properly. No human being, by age or by sex, is immune to HIV infection. Healthy people can acquire the virus and if not treated properly, it could lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which is the final stage of HIV.
The Commission on Population (POPCOM), as staunch advocates of quality health and wellbeing, supports the call to end the stigma on HIV/AIDS and promotes awareness in order to curb the rapid increase of cases every year.
Thus far, POPCOM has been conducting educational discussions on HIV/AIDS integrated in its program components: Adolescent Health Development (AHD) and Gender and Development (GAD).
You-for-you (U4U), an innovative mix of face-to-face and online activities, educates young people on the risks of unprotected sex including the ABCDs of HIV prevention and control:
- Abstain from sex
- Be faithful to your partner
- Consult an adult
- Don’t use drugs nor drink too much alcohol
- Education and early detection and treatment