The directive of President Duterte to intensify the implementation of the National Program on Population and Family Planning (NPPFP) gained the support of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). Secretary Eduardo Año released last July 8, 2019 Memorandum Circular 2019-100 that enjoins the appointment and designation of Local Population Officers in all 1,600 local government units (LGUs). The memorandum also mandates the mobilization of barangay and community officials and volunteers to support the said national program.
The memorandum emphasizes the critical role of LGUs in ensuring the delivery of the full range of family planning information and services especially among the marginalized and undeserved population.
Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III, the Executive Director of the Commission on Population and Development said that “The POPCOM greatly appreciates DILG for this policy support. The appointment and designation of local population officers and mobilization of community officials and volunteers augurs well for the national objective of promoting family planning towards the reduction of poverty by 2022.”
“The organization and mobilization of community volunteers and workers are crucial in bringing FP services and information closer to the people, ensuring that quality supplies are accessible through service providers and all possible access points, aside from health facilities”, he said.
POPCOM Chair and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Dr. Ernesto Pernia and Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Dr. Francisco Duque have also been very vocal in their support on the operation and existence of Local Population Offices nationwide as they provide the structure and necessary manpower to ensure that all Filipinos have access to responsible parenthood and reproductive health information, enabling Filipino couples, especially the poor, to have their desired number and spacing in the context of informed choice.
Both secretaries penned their support with the signing of the Joint Memorandum Circular for NPPFP on February 15, 2019 during the POPCOM Board of Commissioners’ meeting in NEDA, Pasig.
The NPPFP was revitalized to address the challenge of addressing adequately the needs of the growing population in the country today. The FP program was officially launched in 1969 through Executive Order 171, and institutionalized as a national policy then through Republic Act 6365 and Presidential Decree No. 79. Fifty years later, the program will be strengthened to enable more Filipinos to access FP services and speed up impact to social and economic development in a wider scale.
This move is apt as POPCOM is set to recognize outstanding Population Officers in the population program, dubbed as Kaunlarang Pantao Award, inspired by the early population and development works of Rafael M. Salas, who is also internationally known as “Mr. Population”.
This memo circular is in compliance to the Executive Order No. 12 entitled “Attaining and Sustaining Zero Unmet Need for Modern Family Planning” issued by President Rodrigo Duterte. The order mandates the DOH, POPCOM, DILG, and other relevant agencies, including local government units (LGUs), to attain and sustain zero unmet need for Family Planning.
THE PHILIPPINES MARKS WORLD POPULATION DAY ON JULY 11: HALF OF THE JOURNEY MADE SINCE THE 1994 CAIRO POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT MEETING
The Philippines marks World Population Day on July 11: Half of the journey made since the 1994 Cairo Population and Development Meeting
The Philippines joins the World Population Day on 11 July, with its theme, “25 Years of the ICPD,” looking back at the country’s gains and challenges since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, Egypt.
In 1994, Filipinos made up 1.21 percent of the world population. 25 years after, it increased to 1.40 percent. 1 With some 108 million people, the Philippines is now the 13th most populous country in the world. 2 Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) indicate that the country’s population continues to increase in numbers, approximately three babies born per minute, but the rate of growth has declined to 1.76% annually since the 2015 population census. Under this growth rate, the country’s population is expected to double in the next 39 years.
Significant progress has been made from 1994 for instance in- Total Fertility Rate (from 4.1 in 1993 to 2.7 in 2017) and Modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (from 25% in 1993 to 40% in 2017).3 Gains were due to continued government efforts in advocating for Family Planning (FP) programs, despite hurdles from various groups.
Moreover, policies pursuant to the ICPD agenda in the country were also implemented, including the full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law as one of the priority socioeconomic agenda; issuance of Executive Order No. 12 to achieve and sustain zero unmet need for modern family planning by 2022; and the approval by President Rodrigo Duterte of the intensified implementation of the National Program on Population and Family Planning (NPPFP).
25 years after ICPD, the country still needs to address sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), including on gender-based violence. While significant strides have been made, particularly in the area of civil rights as girls acquire more education and enter the workforce, they continue to face challenges in the private sphere of their homes, where their decisions and actions are often questioned and sometimes met with coercion and violence. These are the stark inequalities that hold back women in realizing their full potential.
26 percent of ever-married women of reproductive age still experience violence from their husbands or partners, whether in the form of physical, sexual or emotional abuse (National Demographic and Health Survey, 2017).
The 2019 State of the World Population (SWOP) Report placed emphasis on gender issues as one impediment in the advancement of SRHR. As Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Natalia Kanem stated, “We must push back against forces that would see us return to a time when women had little say in reproductive decisions or, for that matter, in any area of their lives. The fight for rights and choices must continue until they are a reality for all.”
Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) Undersecretary Dr. Juan Antonio A. Perez III believes that attitudes towards gender roles have consequences, on how individuals and couples form their families, perceive female employment, run the workplace and other institutions like church and school. “People-centered development where individuals are empowered has been the core of our advocacy — from educating girls, engaging men and women, and recognizing the role of the bigger society we all live in,” Usec. Perez said.
The ICPD in Cairo, Egypt, set forth a Programme of Action signed by 179 countries, embarking on a long and difficult journey to reproductive health, including voluntary family planning and safe pregnancy; women empowerment and gender equality.
“UNFPA congratulates the Philippine Government in its achievements and commitment to fulfill the promise of the ICPD Agenda,” said Iori Kato, UNFPA Representative in the Philippines.
“We look forward to the Government renewing its commitment at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25: Accelerating the promise, a high-level conference organized on 12-14 November 2019 to finish the unfinished agenda of the full implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action as an integral way for sustainable development,” he added.
POPCOM and UNFPA are proud to have been part of the 25 fruitful years of the ICPD, taking on extra significance this year when both agencies mark their 50th founding anniversary. Usec. Perez asserted, “We are only on the halfway point of our own journey. We must persevere to empower millions more Filipino families.”
We invite everyone to join us in this year’s World Population Day national celebration on 11 July 2019, 10 AM at the Bahay ng Alumni, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City. This dissemination forum will be an avenue to present to the public the results of the ICPD@25 National Review.
18% of Filipino women demand Modern Natural Family Planning Services
For Filipino women, Natural Family Planning (NFP) is deemed important as 18 percent still demand for modern NFP methods, alongside other Family Planning (FP), thus reiterating the country’s unmet need for FP.
The month of May every year is marked as Natural Family Planning Month with this year’s theme “Pamilyang Planado, Panalo!” encouraging couples to plan their families. The 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) showed that poor and less educated women continue to have more children than they planned.
The highlight of the NFP month celebration this year will be the launch of the Natural Family Planning Handbook and Manual, published by the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM). In addition, a signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between POPCOM and the Responsible Parenthood and All-Natural Family Planning (RP-ANFP) Network will take place on May 31, 2019 in Quezon City. The NFP Manual and Handbook will provide information about available methods for FP, with each method having an effectivity of about 95 to 99 percent. This partnership aims to widen the reach of users in terms of the NFP program implementation.
About 0.3 percent of Filipino women actually use NFP, with only Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) and Sympto-Thermal method (STM) posting 0.1 percent each, while the rest of the NFP methods had less than 0.1.
Earlier this year, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the intensified implementation of the National Program on Population and Family Planning (NPPFP) to expand the reach of the program, to include those in the workplace and marginalized sectors. This mandate also includes the promotion of all types of FP methods including modern NFP.
Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III, MD, Executive Director of POPCOM said that, “POPCOM, DOH, the LGUs and other key institutional partners will continue to expand the choices of Filipino women and couples to plan their families and their lives. The modern NFP methods are safe options that they can use for this purpose. These methods also promote shared responsibility among couples which can pave a way for them to strengthen their relationship.”
One of the major reasons for unplanned pregnancies among poor women and couples is their lack of access to family planning information and services. Given this, the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law (RA 10354) promotes universal access to the widest range of family planning (FP) methods including natural and artificial methods.
To increase the use of modern NFP, the Department of Health (DOH), POPCOM, and Local Government Units (LGUs), are promoting modern Natural Family Planning (NFP), also called Fertility Awareness-Based Methods, which are scientifically proven to be effective using the changing body signals indicating their period of fertility. The NFP methods include Standard Days Method (SDM), Basal Body Temperature (BBT), Cervical Mucus Method (CMM) and Sympto-Thermal Method (STM), and Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM), These methods do not require drugs or devices and can be used by Filipino couples to achieve their desired timing, spacing and number of children. Modern NFP does not include traditional and non-scientific methods such as withdrawal, calendar, and rhythm.
“We enjoin all government agencies, local government units, civil society organizations, media outfits, communities and individuals to celebrate Natural Family Planning month and support the campaign for a quality Population and Family Planning program in the Philippines. Dahil ang pamilyang planado, panalo!,” Usec. Perez concluded. #
Annual Report on Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law: improved outcomes, better policies
Annual Report on Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law: improved outcomes, better policies
The 2018 Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law Annual Report showcased significant strides in the implementation of the RPRH Law, after three (3) years under President Duterte’s administration.
The administration launched the National Program for Population and Family Planning as the government strengthened the socio-economic component of its population program by issuing Executive Order 71 in December 2018. This move has given prominence to the role of population and reproductive health in national and economic development.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health has also issued the National Objectives for Health 2017-2022, which aims to achieve universal health care for adolescents, mothers, and persons living with HIV, among others.
Of the five (5) Key Result Areas monitored annually, there are many noteworthy improvements. Below are some of the highlights:
KRA 1: Maternal, Newborn, Child Health and Nutrition (MNCHN) Although there have been hurdles encountered in the immunization program, other aspects of MNCHN saw notable progress: an increase in Skilled Birth Attendance (SBA) and Facility-Based Delivery (FBD). SBA went from 90 percent to 94 percent and FBD from 93 percent to 95 percent. Figures were from the 2017 and 2018 Field Health Service Information System (FHSIS), respectively.
Communication activities to increase awareness on the benefits of vaccination and inform people on the risks of infectious diseases, particularly measles, were also conducted.
KRA 2: Family Planning Modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate in family planning for both the public and private sector showed an increasing trend, from 52.89 percent to 56.67 percent, according to the 2017 and 2018 FHSIS.
Demand generation activities such as Responsible Parenthood-Family Planning (RPFP) classes, Pre-marriage orientation and counselling sessions and Kalalakihang Tapat sa Responsibilidad at Obligasyon sa Pamilya (KATROPA), were able to reach more than 200,000 women of reproductive ages with unmet need for modern family planning (MFP). Of these, 85 percent were referred and served with MFP methods.
Family Planning in the workplace, a new initiative by POPCOM, aims to integrate RPFP in human resource development programs of national government agencies.
KRA 3: Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority Civil Registration Service revealed that babies born to adolescent mothers declined from 203,085 in 2016 to 196,478 in 2017. However, globally, UNFPA reports that the Philippines ranks among countries with the worst performance in adolescent fertility.
These figures prove that we still have a long way to go to equip and empower the young people of the country.
KRA 4: Sexually Transmitted Infections and HIV/AIDS The increasing proportion of young people aged 15-24 infected with the virus has been alarming; from 13 percent between 1999 to 2008 to 29 percent between 2009 to 2018. Sexual contact remains to be the primary mode of transmission and has been so since 1984.
Stigma and discrimination are still prevalent which makes it harder for individuals, particularly adolescents, to acquire screening services.
KRA 5: Elimination of Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) In 2018, the World Economic Forum ranked the Philippines 8th among 149 countries in the Global Gender Gap. The country has narrowed the gender gap to 80 percent.
Trends in reported VAW cases were seen to be decreasing, from 25,805 in 2017 to 18,974 cases in 2018, according to the DOH VAWC Registry System.
POPCOM continues to support and work for the implementation of the RPRH Law and, with continued efforts and partnerships among stakeholders, particularly NEDA and DOH, we will soon address the many challenges faced in the implementation of the Law and fulfill our promise made to the women, youth and all Filipinos.