MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ strengthened family planning program was able to prevent around 2.8 million unintended pregnancies in 2019, which also resulted in avoiding 669,000 unsafe abortions due to early pregnancy and 1,470 possible maternal deaths.
This was brought about by 7.8 million Filipino women using modern family planning methods, according to the annual report on the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (RPRH Law), which was shared by the Commission on Population and Development (PopCom).
This means that the country’s modern contraceptive prevalence rate is already at 27.7 percent, the report, which was done by PopCom and the Department of Health, said.
Of the 7.8 million users of modern family planning methods, 338,674 women were new users in 2019. This in line with the expected growth of 250,000 to 300,000 new family planning users, to meet the National Objectives for Health (NOH) of 30 percent of all women.
“However, this only reflects FP [family planning] figures from public service delivery points and does not include FP use outside of the Program,” the report added.
While not perfect, a huge part of the success has been attributed to the concerted efforts of the national government and local government units (LGUs).
According to Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez, PopCom executive director this, in turn, has a positive contribution on a macroeconomic scale, as the government is less burdened by shouldering the expenses that unintended pregnancies bring. Funds can then be channeled to other uses.
“LGUs’ undertakings and participation in family planning programs have a positive impact on a household’s income, as one with an ideal size of about two to three children will have sufficient financial resources to provide for every member such as food, shelter, education for the kids. A well-provided family, therefore, contributes to poverty amelioration,” Perez said in a statement.
“In a macroeconomic view, it contributes to overall national development, where families do not have to always rely on the government to provide for their everyday necessities; thus, funds can be allocated for other basic services,” he added.
Perez also noted that LGUs were instrumental in other programs involving the RPRH Law’s implementation — such as maternal, child, and postnatal nutrition; adolescent reproductive health; avoidance of sexually transmitted diseases; and the elimination of violence against women and children (VAWC).
In all of the categories, PopCom said the Philippines scored notable improvements:
• Postpartum visits have increased from 57 percent to 62 percent.
• Health facilities and forums for adolescents have increased.
• Mechanisms against VAWC were strengthened.
• More HIV/AIDS patients are getting enrolled in the government’s anti-retroviral programs.
“In the spirit of inclusivity in terms of service provision, we will be working closely with the LGUs to ensure that no Filipino will be left behind. POPCOM is able, ready and willing to go the extra mile with local governments to lend a hand, especially the marginalized and disadvantaged in society, true to our calling of empowering Filipino families,” Perez said.
“That said, we again make an appeal to our local leaders to always include in their works women of reproductive age — especially those who are pregnant, and the youth—particularly young girls who may fall victim to teenage pregnancies, financially-challenged families, and the elderly, most specifically those who are living by themselves or who have comorbid diseases to COVID-19,” he added.