DOH: Healthy family, a healthy society

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“Unmet need for family planning is decreasing across all wealth quintiles but is till highest among the poorest women.”—Esperanza Cabral, chairman of the National Implementation Team for the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law

ACCORDING to the Department of Health (DOH), family planning provides many benefits to strengthen the whole family.

The DOH said family planning lightens the burden and responsibility of the father in supporting his family.

The agency also said planning enables the father to give his children their basic needs such as food, shelter, education and a better future while giving him time for his family and own personal advancement.

For the mother, the DOH said family planning enables her to regain her health after delivery and find enough time and opportunity to love and provide attention to her husband and children. It said healthy mothers produce healthy children.

According to the DOH, family planning will allow the children to receive the attention, security, love and care they deserve.

In her presentation during the hearing of the Oversight Committee on Population, former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral, who now chairs the National Implementation Team for the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law, said the number of people added to the country’s population remains at about 2 million annually.

The RPRH Law was signed in December 2012 but the Supreme Court issued a status quo order on its implementation. In 2015, the SC issued a temporary restraining order on the DOH and the Food and Drugs Administration.

In 2017, the TRO was lifted after the DOH promulgated the revised implementing rules and regulations of the reproductive health law and the FDA re-certified 51 contraceptive products to be non-abortifacient.

According to Cabral, fertility rate is highest in 2017 among women from the poorest households and lowest in women from the richest households.

“Unmet need for family planning is decreasing across all wealth quintiles but is till highest among the poorest women,” she told lawmakers.

Cabral said the least uneducated women have the greatest unmet need for family planning while the unmet need for family planning is highest in the 15-19 age group.

However, she said the percentage of teens who have already had a live birth or are pregnant with their first child declined from 10 percent to 8.6 percent in 2017.

She added fertility increased in teenagers with lower education attainment.

In the same hearing, Juan Antonio Perez III, executive director of Population Commission and co-chairman of the NIT for the RPRH Law, said the Duterte administration has recognized the relevance of population interventions in his platform of national development.

Perez said the administration has displayed strong political will to fully implement the RPRH law.

With this, Cabral said there will be 11,340,000 women using modern family planning methods in the Philippines in 2022.

As a result, she said there may be 4,117,000 unintended pregnancies averted, and 2,429,000 abortions prevented; 2,160 maternal deaths could also be averted.

Government data show 1.4 million were given family planning services in 2017.