January 8, 2016
The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) decried the defunding of the reproductive health program that will deny poor Filipino couples access to medically safe, non-abortifacient and effective reproductive health care services and commodities.
The Senate removed from the 2016 national budget the P1 billion-fund earmarked by the Department of Health to provide free condoms, IUDs and birth control pills.
“This is unacceptable, especially now that we have a national law specifically mandating the provision of family planning services. It deeply saddens us that the same institution that crafted the Reproductive Health Law agreed to defund its implementation,” Romeo Dongeto, PLCPD executive director, said.
The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law was enacted in 2012 after more than 10 years in the legislative mill. It became effective in 2014 after the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality.
“This reverses the progress we have achieved so far in promoting reproductive health and ensuring that couples, especially women, are given better choices in planning their families to give their children a better future,” Dongeto lamented.
The contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) for modern family planning has steadily increased in recent years, from 39 percent in 2012 to 46 percent in 2014, according to the Commission on Population. Despite this, seven million Filipino women still have unmet needs in family planning services according to the Department of Health (DOH).
The rise in use of modern family planning methods has contributed to a decrease in maternal mortality ratio, or the number of deaths per 100,000 live births, from 129 in 2013 to 114 in 2015 based on United Nations estimates. This, however, falls short of our Millennium Development Goal to reduce maternal deaths to 52 per 100,000 live births.
“Without sufficient funding for family planning, we will not be able to achieve our goals to improve maternal health, especially of poor and young mothers,” Dongeto said.
Dongeto added that denying couples better reproductive health choices impacts their health, as well as their capacity to provide their children adequate food, healthcare and education, with far-reaching implications on country’s workforce productivity and national economy.
He urged the DOH to aggressively pursue other sources of funds to sustain the provision of reproductive health services and supplies.
“We cannot stand idle knowing women and families are denied their rights. We have to defend their right to better reproductive health and a brighter future,” Dongeto said.