Population and Development (PopDev)


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Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health

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6 persons found positive for HIV in Caraga region

Butuan City – Six persons were found positive for the human immune deficiency virus (HIV) that caused acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) in the month of February alone in the Caraga region.

This was reported by the Department of Health in Region 13 (DOH 13) which expressed alarm that the news cases all involved male victims aged 18 to 50 years old.

Based on the record of the DOH-Caraga Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, there are now 13 patients who have tested positive for HIV in the region.

From 1995 to February 2016, HIV cases now total 253, with 20 reported AIDS- related deaths in Caraga region, ,DOH 13 records said.

Caraga MapCaraga Map (Photo courtesy of Google Map)

DOH 13 Regional Director Dr. Jose R. Llacuna, Jr. said sexual contact remains as the leading mode of transmission of the disease as it encouraged individuals active in sex to avoid having multiple sexual partners, because it was the best way to prevent HIV infection.

The regional office of the DOH 13 urged all health units and local chief executives of various local government units in the region to help in the massive information dissemination on the effects of HIV-AIDS cases and proper health care of people living with HIV (PLHIV).

From January to February 2016, the Philippine HIV and Aids Registry reported that there are 751 new HIV-positive individuals recorded throughout the country, the DOH 13 added.



-Mike Crismundo

Inspiring dreamers to become leaders


MANILA, Philippines – As they say, great leaders usually set out to make a difference not only in their chosen profession but also for society. They set goals that not only serve their best interest but also benefit other people.

This was the fundamental principle that was imparted to the 40 student achievers who participated in the recently concluded 5th ARC Young Leaders Camp (ARCYLC) with the theme, “Inspiring Dreamers to Become Leaders.”

Influencers and renowned change-makers were invited to share their experiences on how they cultivated their own leadership potential.

For Karen Davila, one of the most respected and award-winning broadcast journalists, leadership starts from the inside. Davila set the tone for the delegates’ journey in discovering and unlocking their leadership capabilities: learning self-mastery first and foremost.

“The first person and the hardest one to lead is yourself so stay focused on your goals. Be the best in your chosen profession,” Davila told the delegates.

This was echoed by Angelo Lobrin, best-selling author of the inspirational book, Laugh with God, Today! He motivated the young leaders to explore what they will be good at and not to give up even in the face of failure and rejection. But most of all, “you have to live life first, before you can inspire as leaders.”

“You can never finish work, but work can finish you,” Lobrin added. “How do you define success? Power, popularity, money — these can all be taken away. One thing will stay: relationships. So enjoy every moment of your life.”

Lobrin had his own difficulties when he was younger, which he shared with the batch. But despite being looked down upon by his peers at school, Lobrin chose to show goodness as a way of getting back. “The greatest revenge is not success, but humility. Showing humility in front of those who maligned you — that’s nobility,” he shared.

Using one’s hardships as an inspiration to do good to others is what set some successful people apart to make a change in society. Efren Peñaflorida, CNN’s Hero of the Year 2009 and Kesz Valdez, International Children’s Peace Prize 2012 awardee, shared their experiences of hardship and triumph together with their mentor Bonn Manalaysay, Club 8586 founder.

Before Peñaflorida pushed his famous kariton (pushcart) to promote education for street children, he almost quit school because of the constant bullying. Valdez, on the other hand, was left to wander the streets at athe tender age of four. Both almost succumbed to their lives of defeat, when Manalaysay took them in and made them discover their inner leader.

“It all starts with the aspiration to lead,” Manalaysay said. This desire should then be followed by thorough research to create a solution and bring about change.

Defining new limits, breaking barriers and leading change was also the motivation behind the works of the other change-makers that were invited to share their perspectives for successful leadership. Lynn Pinugu, executive director of the Mano Amiga Academy, a primary school that caters to an indigent community in Taguig City, shared her own experiences raising funds for the school especially after the onslaught of typhoon Ondoy in 2009.

“If you’re working for a cause, you’ll never run out of challenges. But never stop responding to these challenges. Failure is just another word for growing. And sharing is an essential part in the path of growth. Be grateful and remain humble. When you get fame, power and money, the fight gets harder. It’s easy to have integrity at first but how you end matters so much more,” said Pinugu.

Aisa Mijeno, co-founder and chief executive officer of SALt (Sustainable Alternative Lighting) technology, emphasized that working towards a project for social good can be done  as long as there is a sound solution and a passion from people to make it a reality.

“You all have access to a world of learning especially through the worldwide web,” she said. “You can actually learn by yourself. Just have the initiative and the leadership to make it happen.”

Apart from the talks that inspired the student-leaders to be the next movers and shakers of the country, the ARCYLC also held hands-on trainings and workshops. At the end of the camp, the student-teams, named after the values espoused by the camp — Integrity, Resourcefulness, Teamwork and Discipline — applied their learning and presented case studies that addressed a specific need in their identified target community.

The ARCYLC is an annual leadership program for the disadvantaged Filipino youth to develop their leadership potential and values. This year’s batch of young leaders was carefully selected from a pool of 200 applicants from the country’s state universities and public colleges, the most number of applicants the camp has seen so far. The 5th ARCYLC was held at Camp Benjamin in Alfonso, Cavite.


- Faye Cruz



News Coverage


The Philippine Legislators' Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD) led a Voter’s Education Forum on Reproductive Health (RH) among the youth and women sectors of Quezon City.  The Commission on Population (POPCOM) together with various Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) joined forces to tackle the importance of RH. They also called the attention of the candidates to prioritize the issues on reproductive health.


 22 Speakers


PLCPD Executive Director Romeo Dongeto discussed the importance of RH to the upcoming elections. Citing the Pulse Asia Survey conducted last February 15-20, he presented the following data:


  • Eight out of ten (8 out of 10) or 79% of Filipinos say it is important that candidates include family planning in their programs of action.
  • Most Filipinos—nine of 10 or 86%—also want the government to allocate funding for family planning services.

“Candidates should prioritize family planning and ensure the full implementation of the RH Law,” Dir. Dongeto said.

News Coverage


Religion seems to be the greatest challenge in the advancement of policies like the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Act or the RA 10354. The then Reproductive Health (RH) Bill came into law after 14 long years, with oral arguments which usually boils down to pro-RH groups (Civil Society Organizations and the Government) versus anti-RH groups (predominantly faith-based groups).


But this challenge on religion can also be the greatest aid to the RPRH Law’s progress.


In the recently held discussion with the Interfaith Partnership for the Promotion of Responsible Parenthood, Inc. (IPPRP), religious leaders from different sects gathered to share their experiences on the implementation of the Law.

290,000 more households to benefit from 4Ps


MANILA, Philippines – At least 290,000 families will be added to the list of beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps this year, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

“Our target for 2016 is 4.6 million households,” Leonardo Reynoso, DSWD 4Ps national program manager, told The STAR on Monday.

Reynoso said the program has 4,400,022 beneficiaries as of December.

“We have a regular attrition in Pantawid. There are families that are delisted from the program when they no longer have children aged 0 to 18 years old,” he said.Reynoso, however, said the additional beneficiaries would start receiving financial assistance after the elections.

The additional beneficiaries were identified through the 2015 Listahanan survey of poor families released by the DSWD last week. The nationwide survey covered 15 million households, of which 5.1 million or 28.7 million individuals were identified as the poorest.

At least 11.2 percent or 573,446 poorest households are in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi, which comprise the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.The survey also showed that eight of 10 or 76.6 percent of the poor households are in rural areas.      


-Rainier Allan Ronda          

Obese mothers may struggle with breastfeeding


WOMEN who are obese may stop breastfeeding babies sooner than other mothers, at least in part because they’re uncomfortable nursing their babies when people are nearby, an Australian study suggests.

Researchers surveyed first-time mothers and found most of them intended to breastfeed before their babies were born, regardless of how much the women weighed. Most of the women expressed plans to nurse for about one year, and this didn’t differ much based on whether they were obese.

But obese women were significantly more likely to anticipate discomfort nursing in front of even close female friends. And, the women who felt awkward or anxious being seen while breastfeeding stopped much sooner than women who didn’t mind nursing in front of others.

“They seem to have all the same intentions, and have made the same decisions as smaller women, but confidence and comfort issues are a problem,” said study co-author Dr. Ruth Newby of the University of Queensland in Brisbane.

Pediatricians recommend that mothers exclusively breastfeed infants until at least 6 months of age because it can reduce babies’ risk of ear and respiratory infections, sudden infant death syndrome, allergies, childhood obesity and diabetes.

Mothers can benefit too, with longer periods of breastfeeding linked to lower risks of depression, bone deterioration and certain cancers.

To see how obesity influences breastfeeding, Newby and her coauthor surveyed 462 women, giving them questionnaires once before the baby arrived and six times during the first year after birth. Each woman completed at least one of the questionnaires.

Among 258 women who provided a pre-pregnancy weight, they ranged from dangerously underweight to extremely obese, with an average size that put them right on the edge between a normal size and overweight.

Roughly one quarter of these women were overweight before pregnancy, and about 17 percent were obese.

Researchers had data on breastfeeding for 371 women, including 195 women who also provided information about their weight.

Among 347 women who had babies born at full-term, 98 percent nursed their infants at least once, researchers report in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Normal-weight women nursed significantly longer than overweight mothers, and obese women continued for much less time than even their overweight peers, the study found.

Though there wasn’t a meaningful difference in the women’s confidence about achieving their breastfeeding goals among the 274 participants who answered this question, obese women expressed much more discomfort about nursing in different social situations than other mothers.

The study doesn’t prove obesity causes difficulties with breastfeeding, the authors caution.

Other limitations include the high proportion of women who didn’t participate in each of the questionnaires as well as the reliance on mothers to accurately recall and report their weight and expectations and experiences with breastfeeding.

Even so, the findings suggest that more research is needed to understand the drivers of social discomfort with breastfeeding among obese women, the authors conclude.

Interventions during pregnancy might help address any body image issues or psychological barriers to breastfeeding and help increase the odds that obese women achieve their breastfeeding goals, the authors note.

Obese women may also need help overcoming physical obstacles that get in the way of successful breastfeeding, Newby said by email.

“Newborn babies have very tiny mouths, and larger women in particular may have quite large breasts,” Newby said.

“If the baby’s mouth milks the breast in an effective way, it empties the breast of milk and sets up hormonal signals which make more milk,” Newby said. “It’s supply and demand.”

“Babies of larger mums don’t always get a good grip or latch and may not be as good at emptying the breast and stimulating that milk supply for themselves,” Newby added. – Reuters


-Lisa Rapaport

Rise in HIV-AIDS cases alarms Zamboanga officials

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Zamboanga Sibugay—The continuous increase of Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome cases in this highly urbanized city has alarmed local health officials.

Dulce Amor Miravite, chief of the City Health Office’s Reproductive Health and Wellness Center, said the office registered 177 HIV cases with 25 deaths in the past few years.

One-hundred sixty-one of those cases were males.

One-hundred thirty-one of the cases were from the city while the others are transients.

Miravite said latest CHO records showed that 2015 had the highest incidence as it registered 51 HIV cases with five deaths even as the health office had strengthened its advocacy against HIV and AIDS, focusing its activities on the sitios, barangays and public and private offices.

She claimed the advocacy is also being undertaken in secondary and tertiary schools.

Miravite said that most of the current HIV-AIDS patients acquired the disease through, among others, men having sex with men, client of sex workers, female sex workers, male sex workers, and injecting drug users.

She also claiming that men having sex with men is the most high-risk behavior that could lead to acquiring HIV.

Miravite advised persons with high-risk behavior to come to the RHWC to voluntarily undergo HIV testing “so that they will know their status and what to do next.”


-A. Perez Rimando

HIV tests now required before marriage in Turkmenistan


ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan — Turkmenistan has passed a law making HIV tests mandatory prior to marriage, state media reported on Wednesday, in a sign the reclusive Central Asian state fears the spread of a disease it has always downplayed.

The law is the closest the highly secretive state of 5 million has come to acknowledging a public health threat from the disease which is prevalent throughout the former Soviet Union.

The law, which aims to “create conditions for healthy families and prevent the birth of HIV-infected children” was published in the state newspaper on Wednesday and is effective immediately.

An official from the country’s national AIDS Center, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that the new law was “very necessary” given the “high risk” of the spread of the virus.

The official cited use of intravenous drugs, mostly sourced from neighboring Afghanistan, and prostitution as the main means of transmission.

Other than “persons entering marriage”, the legislation also enforces HIV tests for blood donors, “persons suspected of narcotics use”, prisoners, citizens of foreign countries applying for work visas and stateless persons.

According to the law signed by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, the government will guarantee anonymity and free treatment for sufferers of the disease.

Turkmenistan, which remains largely closed to the outside world, has always downplayed the prevalence of HIV, a disease that attacks the human immune system and is transmitted from person to person via bodily fluids.

In 2002, the health ministry, which does not publish data on infectious diseases, claimed the country had only two cases of HIV and that both patients had been infected outside Turkmenistan.


-Agence France-Presse

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

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