March 6, 2017
Gift of health for the Filipino Women
IT WAS in 2015 when the SC issued a TRO to DOH and its partners to “temporarily” stop “procuring, selling, distributing, dispensing or administering, advertising and promoting the hormonal contraceptive Implanon and Implanon NXT.” DOH stopped its implant services following the TRO, although progestin subdermal implant (PSI) is recognized by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as one of the safe and effective modern methods since November 2014.
In 2014, contraceptive implants were on the rise, preferred by many young Filipino women, so that by end-2015, over 100,000 had used implants. It is for this reason that DOH procured more than 500,000 units of Implanon NXT to massively offer the public with implant services – from the cities to the barrios. When the SC issued its TRO, all Implanon stocks were recalled, and they will be expiring in 2018.
With implants, POPCOM Executive Director, Dr. Juan Antonio A Perez III, explained in his demographic scenarios, Philippine population will rise by 2022 to about 110,145,592. Without implants in the national program, there will be an additional 3,804,172 births by the time President Duterte completes his term. To date, POPCOM estimates that there have been half a million unintended pregnancies since the TRO, many of which have been accompanied by over a thousand maternal deaths since 2015.
From across the country, POPCOM regional offices and partner civil society organizations (CSOs) reported that despite the TRO, “there is still a high demand for implants.” Dr. Perez noted, “basic FP services are not provided to women with expressed needs in areas like Koronadal City and Tarlac.” In South Cotabato, women shifted to more temporary methods, like DMPA (depot medroxyprogesterone acetate) or DepoProvera injectables. It was estimated, “about PhP260 million worth of implant units are nearing expiration and will be wasted if they remain unutilized.” In all the 15 regions, “there were no adverse reactions to the commodity ever reported,” he pointed out.
CSOs and private healthcare providers complained that the TRO had “planted the seed of fear from using implants.” Friendly Care Clinics in the regions observed a “growing uncertainty among current implant users.” It is also for this reason that “there is a declining access to contraceptives and FP commodities in Caloocan and Payatas,” which is also burdening the private healthcare providers.
Meanwhile, more than one hundred thousand ordinary Filipinos had signed an online and offline signature campaign aimed at petitioning the Supreme Court “to lift the TRO.”
People trust the High Court will rather see the Filipino families empowered, instead of making them poorer, starving and dying, every day of their lives. #