The Commission on Population and Development – Region XI celebrates the 2020 World Population Day on July 10, 2020 with the theme – “Putting the Brakes on COVID-19: How to Safeguard the Health and Rights of Women and Girls Now.”

Despite the limitations brought about by the pandemic, POPCOM – Region XI continues to safeguard the reproductive health of women by providing Free Family Planning Services through the POPCOM Wellness Clinic located at its Regional Office along Dumanlas-Friendship Road, Bajada, Davao City. POPCOM caters to clients by providing free services such as Family Planning Counseling, Pill Dispensing, Sub-dermal Implant (SDI) Insertion and Removal, Administering Injectables, Intra-Uterine Device (IUD) Insertion, and Referrals for Bi-tubal Ligation (BTL) and Vasectomy.

The operationalization of the Wellness Clinic is POPCOM Region XI’s support to the front liners in Health providers since the focus are mostly on prevention and detection of COVID19.  “POPCOM has to step up so that there will be no disruption in responding to the need and demand for Family Planning (FP) Services especially among women in the time of the “new normal” while also ensuring safety protocols.” Regional Director Agnes Sampulna emphasizes.  Furthermore she says, POPCOM Region XI is also active in mobilizing the office’s landline telephone, mobile number and Facebook page to cater to FP inquiries and referrals and other concerns.  

Seventeen-year old “Jessa” (not her real name) mother of a 2 year old baby from Buhangin, Davao City is one of the youngest clients who availed of Sub-dermal Contraceptive Implant. “Nagkasinabot mi sa akoang partner nga dili usa ako magbuntis tungod sa kalisod sa panahon karon labina nga hadlok mi anang COVID.  Nasayod ko na usa lang kini ka temporary nga pamaagi aron dili ‘sa ko mabuntis sa sulod sa tulo ka tuig (My partner and I decided to delay my pregnancy especially now that we are afraid of COVID. I am aware that this is only a temporary method to postpone my pregnancy for three years),” she shared.  At an early age, Jessa realizes that the survival of her family during COVID19 Pandemic is also dependent on the ration from the government since her partner is only earning only a few thousands as attendant at a convenience store.

“Jessa” is only one of the many adolescent parents in the region. Based on the 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Davao Region ranked first in the incidence of Teenage Pregnancy in the country.

As of July 3, 2020, a total of 79 women clients from Davao City were provided with Family Planning Services through the Wellness Clinic since the implementation of the   Community Quarantine in the City.

In an interview, Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III shared that POPCOM will continue to advocate for the provision of basic family planning services in local communities as part of the essential services needed by couples and individuals to prevent the longer impact of unintended pregnancies.

“Being a health agency, it is our duty and commitment to the Filipino people to remind them that family planning—especially during situations when persons are asked to stay indoors—should always be accessed and practiced,” POPCOM’s executive director said. “We are uncertain as to when the health emergency caused by COVID-19 will abate. As such, we do not want to add on to the current situation with another possible crisis caused by unplanned pregnancies, as they could bear added weight to our already strained medical institutions,” the POPCOM chief emphasized. “We therefore call on couples and individuals to keep in mind family planning as they try to maintain their overall health and well-being inside their respective homes during these trying times.”, he continued.

POPCOM, in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), will conduct a virtual commemoration of the event where insightful talks from experts on women’s health and protection will be discussed. The online event via Facebook Live will start at 10:00AM through the official agencies’ Facebook pages – UNFPA Philippines and Commission on Population and Development.