By Ibarra C. Mateo
The hampered access to family planning services and commodities due to the Covid19 pandemic restrictions could add 214,000 Filipino babies to the estimated 1.7 million births expected by the of 2020.
Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III, executive director of the Commission on Population and Development (PopCom) said the “current scenario of the pandemic” has limited the access by couples and individuals to family planning services and commodities.
Perez said this scenario may result in 214,000 more births on top of the initially-estimated 1.7 million deliveries by end of the year.
“Because of the pandemic, a new live birth may have unintended socioeconomic impact on a family affected by unemployment and its meager income,” he said.
While 3 out of 10 pregnancies are unplanned, the 2017 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) estimated that the trend will cause the Philippine population to swell by an additional 2 million-plus Filipinos in 2021, the PopCom said.
With a population of 109.1 million as of end September 2020, the Philippines is ranked as the second country in Southeast Asia with the highest population number.
Since mid-March, the Philippine government has placed various parts of the country in varying degrees of quarantine and community restrictions, affecting millions of people’s access to basic services.
Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros, chair of the Senate committee on women, children, and family relations, said that women and children issues have been “invisible” during the pandemic. She urged the government to focus again on these issues.
“There are obstacles in health and medical service delivery brought about by Covid19, including the provision of essential family planning information, and supplies. This is the reality we are now facing as a nation,” he said.
“That is why considering and availing of contraception will be vital during these days. It will help keep our population numbers in check, particularly at this time of the pandemic, where we anticipate limited resources at the household and macro levels,” Perez said.
“The implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law has boosted the overall family planning program in the country by 100% in terms of women and couples who have joined the program: from 4 million in 2012, to almost 8 million in 2019,” he said.
“However, the Supreme Court’s decision on the RPRH Law limiting the access of adolescents to family planning in 2014 has adversely affected adolescent birth rates, particularly among 10- to 14-year-old minors. This has made universal access to family planning difficult to accomplish,” Perez said.
Perez said that 1 out of 10 women aged 15 to 19 have already started their “sexual debut” and has given birth, citing data from the 2017 NDHS.
“Curiously, Covid19 has not only taken lives; it is also producing new lives, albeit mistimed,” he said.
“There are hindrances being caused by the virus in getting across critical items that couples and individuals need at this time, and these might very well include family planning methods and contraceptives,” Perez said.
In terms of development, Perez said unintended pregnancies borne from the series of lockdowns and quarantines may obstruct women of reproductive age to reach their full potential and to contribute for their families.
Filipinos can reach out to POPCOM through Facebook via @OfficialPOPCOM and @UsapTayoSaFP to inquire about contraceptives and learn more about them, he said. They can contact POPCOM helplines at 0961-743-2337 and 0927-299-8764 for Manila, as well as those in their respective areas posted in the POPCOM Regional Offices’ FB pages.
The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) is the country’s lead organization in population management for well-planned and empowered Filipino families and communities. POPCOM aims to empower Filipino individuals, families, and communities by enabling them to achieve their fertility intentions, prevent adolescent pregnancies, and consciously consider population factors in sustainable development initiatives.
#Covid19PH #Population #ReproductiveHealth #PopCom #Women #Chuldren