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Population and Development (PopDev)

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Responsible Parenthood - Family Planning (RP-FP)

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Adolescent Health and Development (AHD)

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Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health

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8 out of 10 voters want candidates to back family planning

Eight out of 10 registered voters believe that candidates in the May 9 elections should include family planning in their political agenda, while nine out of 10 voters, or 86 percent, said family planning services should get public funding, the latest Pulse Asia survey indicated.

The survey results were released on Tuesday during a press briefing by the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), which sponsored the poll questions.

“The people have spoken. Candidates should prioritize family planning and ensure the full implementation of the reproductive health (RH) law,” PLCPD executive director Romeo Dongeto said of the survey conducted from Feb. 15 to 20, among 1,800 registered voters with biometrics across the country.

The survey had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2 percent. Majority of its respondents, or 83 percent, are Catholics, while the rest belong to other faiths.

Many of the voters who gave high importance to the candidates’ support for family planning were from the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR) and Mindanao, and were working in the government.

 

‘Surprising’

Among the regions, CAR registered the highest percentage of voters who considered family planning “very important,” at 90 percent.

But voters in Ilocos province, Cagayan Valley, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) believe otherwise, with 45 percent, 42 percent, 60 percent and 33 percent, respectively, giving “very high” importance to family planning, according to Pulse Asia research director Ana Maria Tabunda.

Tabunda described the results in Calabarzon as “surprising,” considering the region had the highest number of voters covered by the survey, at 14 percent.

She observed that “only one of three voters in the ARMM [considered] family planning very important, maybe because they have other important issues [in mind] like poverty, water and power supply.”

Public funding

The survey also revealed that 64 percent of Filipinos considered family planning “very important,” a figure 11 percentage points higher than in 2010, Tabunda said.

Nine out of 10 Filipino voters said family planning services must get public funding as well, with CAR, Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan), Northern Mindanao and Davao Region registering agreement among 60 percent of respondents.

The survey also revealed that at least 52 percent of Filipino voters agreed that youth ages 15 years and above should have access to family planning services in government facilities. The percentage of those who agreed was higher in Metro Manila and urban centers than in Mindanao and rural areas.

“This survey shows there is unanimity among Filipinos [who believe] that spacing between births, planning the family and limiting the number of children have an impact on fertility,” said Commission on Population Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez.

Strong message

Perez said that fertility in the country remains high, with the average Filipino woman having one child more than she wanted.

The high public preference for family planning and government funding for such should send a strong message to national and local politicians running in the May elections, added the official.

“National officials should make sure that there is provision for family planning, while local officials should make sure that services are actually provided. It’s a working relationship between the national and the local governments to get the work done,” Perez said.

The Department of Health’s funding for birth control commodities this year was slashed by P1 billion during the bicameral conference for the General Appropriations Act. To fill the gaps created by the budget cut, the health agency was compelled to realign a portion of its budget allocation and to tap international aid.

 
 
-Jocelyn R. Uy
 
 
 

GE Vscan Access ultrasound improves maternal health

BANNA, a fourth class municipality in the province of Ilocos Norte, is the first town to benefit from a small, lightweight and portable GE Vscan Access ultrasound device, which enables task-shifting to midwives for basic obstetric scanning as well as improves clinical decision making and pregnancy management.

This ultrasound device also mobilizes mothers to seek four or more antenatal care visits.

“Our goal is to work hand-in-hand with the government partners and private healthcare providers to build a sustainable healthcare system in developing regions globally,” said Ivan Arota, country manager for GE Healthcare Philippines.

As part of GE’s commitment to the United Nations, it has invested in its global research and development capabilities to develop essential technologies well suited for low-resource settings.

Vscan Access visually verifies what one hears and feels to help improve the physical exam and strengthen the patient’s clinical confidence. The device visualizes organ function and helps make quick and confident diagnoses. It also connects more deeply with the patient for better care.

“The portable ultrasound can easily assess pregnant women and immediately refer them to a higher facility if problems and abnormalities are seen,” said Remedios Peralta, municipal health officer of Banna.

The handheld and pocket-sized ultrasound features damage-and-dust-resistant design, battery operation with charging options, and bluetooth. Weighing less than 2 kilograms, it was made to move and built to last in tough environments.

Developed with primary care and end-user in mind, it also has software innovations such as pregnancy education, videos for patients and a reference library of scanned images to support novice users of ultrasound.

“We are happy to partner with GE to make our goal of improving the maternal health situation in our community possible,” said Carlito Abadilla II, municipal mayor of Banna.

 

-Edison Joseph G...

 

http://www.malaya.com.ph/business-news/living/ge-vscan-access-ultrasound-improves-maternal-health

4Ps: Crossing-the-road health intervention works

 

ILOILO CITY. – Helping children cross the poverty divide works.

That’s the conclusion of a study on the impact on children in Iloilo and Antique of the government’s 4Ps or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

The study, funded by the Department of Health and the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Council on Health Research and Development, looked at how the 4Ps have changed health care for children.

The 4Ps aim to fast-track a strategy to eradicate poverty and hunger through conditional cash grants to extremely poor households. Conditional because the cash out depends on families following prescriptions to improve children’s health, nutrition and education. The 4Ps target children from birth until 14 years old to provide them with education, ensure gender equality, reduce child mortality and improve child health.

Very poor families are given P500 a month for health and nutrition and P300 per month per child for education – or as much as P15,000 annually.

The conditions for families to continuously receive the money: their children 0-5 year old must receive regular health checkups and must be vaccinated. The 3-5 year olds must attend day care or preschool classes; 6-14 year olds must enroll in elementary or high school; and 6-14 year olds must receive de-worming pills twice a year. They must be in school at least 85 percent of the time.

There are prescribed subtractions from cash handouts depending on how families comply with the requirements.

The 4Ps started in 2009; the study was conducted three years later in pilot barangays of Iloilo City and five towns in Antique province. It covered beneficiaries whose number increased from 20,527 in 2009 to 173,669 by 2012.

In order for children’s health to get better, there must be an increasing demand for 4Ps services, says Dr. Renilyn P. Reyes of the Department of Health Western Visayas who led the study. On the supply side, the study focused on how to increase the demand through financial incentives.

Because and the number of families availing of 4Ps, the supply of services such as vaccinations and de-worming must be available. The study thus assessed child health through indicators such as immunization, de-worming and nutrition, the number of visits to health facilities when a child is sick, the frequency they were weighed and so on.

The study has policy implications, said Reyes. She conducted the study as a Training Scholar in Health Research with the Western Visayas Health Research and Development Consortium.

“The study suggests the need to continue the 4Ps,” said Dr. Ric Nadongayo, Provincial Health Officer of Antique, noting the interventions impact significantly at the local level.

One of the eye-openers: the study found that while 90 percent of children were fully immunized in 2008 the target of 95 percent coverage to limit the outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases was not achieved by 2009-2011 – until now.

Another wake-up call: only 1.1 percent of those surveyed, regardless whether they are 4Ps beneficiaries or not, were satisfied with the quality of health care in general.

Among the findings: a survey of 2,427 households with 534 children 1-5 years old suggests that 4Ps families have more children than non-4Ps beneficiaries. While they had at least a high school education, most household members enrolled in the 4Ps were unemployed.

 

-Paul Icamina

 

http://www.malaya.com.ph/business-news/news/4ps-crossing-road-health-intervention-works

Heart failure a growing threat to Filipinos

Did you know that heart failure (HF) or palyadong puso in the vernacular is a silent killer that has been creeping in our midst? This is largely brought about by an increase in the prevalence of risk factors, like high-blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and smoking.

As the name implies, heart failure is a serious medical condition that occurs when the heart does not pump enough blood to meet the oxygen demands of the body. Despite improvement in survival rates with current therapies, patients with HF have a poor prognosis. One in five people aged over 40 will develop HF in their lifetime, and patient numbers are increasing. Half of all patients will die within five years of being diagnosed with HF. HF is the most common cause of hospitalization in people aged over 65.

 

Signs and symptoms

When the heart does not work optimally, it may not pump enough blood to support your other organs and may cause you to retain fluids. This can cause shortness of breath with physical exertion or when lying down, persistent cough or wheezing, reduced ability to exercise and weakness. A lot of patients will complain that they are asthmatic when in fact they have heart failure. Other symptoms are sudden weight gain from fluid retention and swelling in the lower extremities and abdomen. Some patients also have rapid or irregular heartbeat, and increased frequency of urination at night. Consult your doctor promptly when you have these symptoms.

Over time, if not treated properly, HF leads to a cascade of changes, punctuated by acute episodes, that cause severe fatigue; breathlessness; damage particularly to the heart, kidneys and liver; and ultimately death.

 

Causes

Coronary artery disease is the most common cause of HF. It develops when fatty deposits (plaques) build up over time in the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle—a process called atherosclerosis. The plaque buildup can narrow the arteries and cause reduced blood flow to the heart. If these plaques rupture, a heart attack occurs, causing a blood clot to form. The blood clot may block blood flow to an area of the heart muscle, weakening the heart’s pumping ability and often leaving permanent damage. If the damage is significant, it can lead to a weakened heart muscle leading to HF.

Another common cause of HF is hypertension. High-blood pressure causes the heart to work harder to circulate blood throughout the body. Over time, the heart muscle becomes thicker to compensate for the extra work it must perform. Eventually, the heart muscle may become either too stiff or too weak to effectively pump blood.

Less common causes of HF include faulty heart valves, damage to the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy due to certain diseases, alcohol and substance abuse), inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis, usually caused by a viral infection) and congenital heart defects.

 

Many Filipinos at risk

Although there are currently no definitive local statistics on the prevalence of HF, the latest National Nutrition and Health Survey (NNHeS) conducted in 2013 show that many Filipinos have risk factors for HF. These include hypertension, obesity, smoking, high cholesterol and diabetes.

Dr. Carolyn Lam’s editorial published in the March 2015 issue of the online journal ESC Heart Failure, warned that HF is a growing problem in Southeast Asia fueled by a rapidly growing population with HF risk factors, particularly hypertension and diabetes. Citing the World Health Organization 2014 global status report, the editorial noted that the risk of prematurely dying from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in the Philippines (28 percent) is more than double in the United Kingdom (12 percent). NCDs include cardiovascular diseases such as HF.

The Philippine Heart Association Council on Heart Failure, chaired by Dr. Paul Ferdinand Reganit, is currently doing the HF registry among participating hospitals.

Novartis is also supporting a research study that aims to determine HF prevalence in the Philippines and the economic burden the debilitating condition puts on patients and their families, particularly in terms of health-care expenditures, lost productivity, and impact on quality of life. Data generated by these studies can help enhance the medical treatment and health insurance coverage of Filipinos with HF.

This “Keep It Pumping” column is an initiative of the Philippine Heart Association which aims to promote and sustain HF understanding and advocacy to educate and empower patients, their caregivers and the public to improve health outcomes.

(Dr. Alex T. Junia is the president of the Philippine Heart Association.)

 

-Dr. Alex T. Junia MD
 
 
 

Press Release
Women's Month 

POPCOM Supports Women’s Month, Pushes for their Rights

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POPCOM upholds Women's Rights

Photo by Lourdes Nacionales

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In solidarity with the Philippine Commission on Women's Celebration at the Quirino Grandstand, March 16

Photo by Mark Emman Magas

The Commission on Population (POPCOM) joins the celebration of Women’s Month by promoting the different activities lined up for women this March, underlining the issues they are facing and stressing the programs of the agency that delivers their rights. 

“We’ve been supporting the rights of women since then because we believe that they are crucial in building empowered Filipino families,” POPCOM Executive Director Dr. Juan Antonio Perez III said. 

This year’s celebration revolves around the theme “Kapakanan ni Juana, Isama sa Agenda” (Include Women in the Agenda).  It aims to achieve three main goals: (1) close the gender gap in leadership and decision making in both public and private sector, (2) gather opinions of women from all walks of life by participating in a “crowdsourcing,” and (3) capacitate and prepare women and girls to reach their ambitions.

“We are now living in a modern society that liberates the women to take roles, to decide, and to dream,” Director Perez said.

The POPCOM Director encourages all women to participate in the said “crowdsourcing” led by the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) lodged in their Facebook (FB) page. They can state their views on which women’s issues should be prioritized or addressed by the government within the next six (6) years. It will help the PCW in proposing policies related to gender equality, women’s empowerment, and the fulfillment of women’s human rights.

‘Womb in Resonance’—if only the womb could speak

Just outside our village, motorists and their riding companions would be swarmed by children selling sampaguita and other crudely threaded flower leis. Occasionally, one would see an adult man or woman seated on a makeshift bench at the street intersection to whom the children would go to from time to time to get their fresh supply of leis and to hand whatever “sales” they’ve gotten so far.

Sometimes, the children —who don’t look like they’re older than 10 years—would be carrying a baby each, probably their younger sibling, under the noontime heat. Somehow though, one wonders if the babies, who appear sedated, are really their siblings, or just an accessory to move the motorists and their passengers to slide down their windows and buy their sampaguita leis

Some passersby, filled with compassion, would hand the children several hundred-peso bills, which can very well represent a full day’s wage of an average worker so these children and the babies they’re carrying could go home already. The children would give a profuse expression of thanks and assure their benefactor that they would call it a day and go home.

But as soon as the Good Samaritan has crossed the intersection, the children would be back in the street, the arms of the infant or toddler wrapped around them, repeating their litany of heartrending lines to the next batch of motorists.

It’s truly sad that children, hardly in their preadolescence, are being used as a workforce by some parents. Having these children work instead of letting them go to school, so they could already help earn bread for their respective families, highlights the gravity of our population problem, and the urgent need for an effective and sustained family-planning program.

Misconceptions

A wrong mind-set and several prevalent misconceptions about contraception by the very people who need to plan their families responsibly, impose a formidable barrier—among other things— to an effective implementation of the program.

Former Health Secretary Esperanza “Espie” Cabral recently shared with me a video documentary titled “Womb in Resonance.” The short film, produced by the advocacy group Joining Voices 2020, is a poignant narrative of  the challenges women have to hurdle in accessing rights-based family planning in the Philippines. It also underscores the misconceptions, misplaced cultural beliefs and practices, and unfounded fears of many of our women about conventionally used contraceptive methods.

The video may be viewed at this link:

http://joiningvoices2020.org/blog/our-resources/the-positive-result-of-well-funded-family-planning-project-in-the-philippines/.

Without realizing it, Filipino women are seemingly helpless victims, made more so by the resignation to the submissive role many of them assume in planning their families.

Minor role

The film focuses on Maritess, mother to a big brood, who laments quite too late that she didn’t plan her pregnancies. Looking back, perhaps trying to say she only had a minor role in her having multiple pregnancies, she said she would refrain from having sex, but if her husband insisted on having sex with her, she didn’t think she had any other choice but to give in.

“When a woman does not want it and the male insists, sometimes I cannot refuse anymore. He’s already doing it to me,” says Maritess in Filipino.

Maritess has been perennially bothered by her asthma and the bouts of acute asthmatic episodes became more frequent during her pregnancies. Since they didn’t have money to deliver their children in the hospital, she just tried to endure the pangs of labor and childbirth, compounded by asthmatic bouts, in their house assisted only by a midwife.

Intense suffering

Despite the usually intense suffering she experienced with every pregnancy and childbirth, she seemed to find solace in the thought that having many kids is also good so they can help to work and earn some money for the family. This mind-set explains the ambivalence that many of our countrymen have about limiting the number of their children.

“I wanted to undergo ligation, but they said I have asthma so I was scared to undergo the procedure,” says Maritess. “Whenever I see my grandchildren having nothing to eat, I feel so sorry but I can’t do anything. I told my daughter Cristina to undergo ligation. Her husband is also unemployed,” she adds.

The camera shifts to Cristina, who got pregnant at the age of 18 and now has two children. With her first baby, she went into labor for a whole day. If she were in a hospital, she would have been given medicines intravenously to enhance her uterine contractions and shorten labor, but they also did not have the money. “So, I just told the midwife that I will endure labor pains even if they are painful. I almost died,” says Cristina.

If only her womb could speak, it would have given Cristina a severe scolding.



 
 

Monthly mark for HIV cases goes north

WITH over 800 new cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) reported last January, the Philippines has set a new record, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

Based on the latest HIV/AIDS Registry of the Philippines (HARP), a total of 804 new HIV cases were reported in the first month of 2016.

“It is the highest number of cases ever reported since 1984,” said the DOH report.

The figure resets the previous high of 772 that was recorded in June 2015.

The monthly report also indicated that the number of newly-diagnosed cases of HIV per day has increased to 27 from only 22 in previous months.

“The 804 is 50 percent higher compared to the same period last year, which was at 536,” said the DOH.

The report also pointed that, of the HIV cases in January, 94 developed into full-blown AIDS cases.

There were also a total of 64 deaths from HIV/AIDS in January 2016 alone.

Of the 804 new cases in January, a total of 771 cases (96 percent) of the new cases were acquired through sexual transmission, mostly from the men-having-sex-with-men (MSM) population, which accounted for 684 cases or 89 percent.

Homosexual contact was responsible for 431 cases; followed by bisexual contact with 253 cases; and 59 cases from heterosexual contact. 

Injecting drug use (IDU) accounted for the transmission of 33 new cases.

A total of 38 new cases among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been reported with all but one coming from sexual transmission. The other one came from IDU.

The regions with the highest number of reported cases for January 2016 were the National Capital Region (NCR) with 370 (46 percent) cases; Calabarzon with 130 (16 percent) cases; Central Visayas with 71 (9 percent) cases; Central Luzon with 60 (7 percent) cases; and Davao Region with 36 (4 percent) cases.

Since 1984, there are already 31,160 HIV cases recorded in the country, including 2,646 AIDS cases and 1,594 deaths.

 

- Gerard Naval

 

http://www.malaya.com.ph/business-news/news/monthly-mark-hiv-cases-goes-north

Press Release
Sixth State of the Philippine Population Report

 

 Precious and Precarious: The Life of Filipino Mothers

Maternal mortality has been one of the biggest challenges in the struggle to ensure quality health care for all.  No woman should die giving life yet many die not because they could not be saved, but because they did not get the optimum care they needed.

To continue the critical task of reducing maternal mortality, the Commission on Population launches the Sixth State of the Philippine Population Report (SPPR6) with emphasis on the precious and precarious lives of Filipino mothers.

In 2015, the Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) over Implanon and Implanon NXT, a form of subdermal contraceptive which can last for three years. Several prohibitions on the use of modern contraceptives were also seen in some provinces in country, with health service providers living in fear even when the RPRH Law is already the rule. Just when the implementing mechanism for service delivery and demand generation strategies have taken a significant stride, we are now faced with a significant budget cut for the procurement of commodities – an outright denial of women’s reproductive rights by leaving women with no options and means for family planning at all.  These placed a detrimental effect on the poorest women who rely heavily on health centers for contraceptives and contributed to the risk of maternal mortality in the country. A woman who is already undernourished may be pregnant for the fifth or sixth time. The baby and the mother are equally at risk of getting complications or worse, dying. There are women who were already advised by doctors that additional pregnancies would surely be precarious to their health but still can not avail family planning services. The consequences of the denial of government-funded RH and Family Planning services in 2016 will be at least an additional 110 maternal deaths that will accompany at least 50,000 unintended pregnancies.

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Base from the 2015 CENSUS of Population: 100,981,437

Basis: 2015 PGR of 1.72

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