All systems go for reproductive-health initiative

In Photo: In this July 11,2014, file photo, students listen to the correct use of a contraceptive at a United Nations Population Fund booth during a daylong activity to mark the World Population Day in Mandaluyong City. The day was marked with lectures on reproductive health care and handing contraceptives to help increase awareness to the growing world population.

By Claudette Mocon-Ciriaco

HEALTH Secretary Janette Garin on Wednesday declared all systems go for the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law, despite a P1-billion cut in the Department of Health’s (DOH) budget.

Brushing aside worries that the budget cut would adversely affect the RH law beneficiaries, particularly the marginalized workers, Garin said the DOH will continue to procure family-planning supplies—contraceptives and condoms—using the P337.5 million for the program sourced from the 2015 budget.

The amount, she said, was originally intended to purchase additional blood-pressure apparatus for barangay health workers.

Garin said there are three “big foreign partners” that have committed to help the DOH in its family-planning campaign. She refused to name the agency’s three international partners.

“The Aquino administration, through the DOH, assures the full implementation of the reproductive-health law, despite this challenge. We can find the resources to keep the program going, because the President is supportive of the RH initiative,” Garin said.

On January 4 the DOH learned that in the 2016 General Appropriations Act, the budget for its Family Health and Responsible Parenting program was reduced to P2.2 billion, from P3.2 billion.

“The P1-billion cut would adversely affect the procurement of family-planning commodities. The remaining P2.2 billion is intended for the purchase of vaccines, micronutrients, medicines and dental supplies,” Garin said.

She explained that realigning the remaining part of the P2.2 billion for the purchase of family-planning commodities is not possible, because this will mean sacrificing immunization, nutrition and other health programs, which already have identified beneficiaries. “These programs are important in meeting our country’s commitments for the Sustainable Development Goals,” she added.

However, Garin said the DOH is looking for other sources of funds for its family-planning program, which may include agency savings identified and declared at the end of the year, as well as assistance from development partners.

Republic Act 10354, or the RPRH Law, was signed into law in 2012, but it was contested by concerned citizens at the Supreme Court. In 2014 the High Court subsequently declared the law constitutional.

Considered a landmark health legislation of the Aquino administration, this law ensures access to reproductive-health information, lifesaving commodities and services to reduce maternal mortality and empower families to decide the number and spacing of their children.

Image credits: AP


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