MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III will sign the Reproductive Health bill into law before the year ends, but don't expect to immediately see results.
"You will not feel it immediately. Much of the work will have to be a massive national information campaign," bill sponsor Albay Rep Edcel Lagman told reporters.
Lagman said a "mandatory comprehensive review" should be done 5 years after the law's implementation. "That's the only time we will see the beneficient effects of the law," Lagman said.
The RH bill seeks government funding for reproductive health services - including free contraceptives.
"Definitely the promotion of RH including of voluntary contraception has the effect of mitigating the population growth rate," he said.
Authors of the bill admitted that the law is not perfect, but it's a big step towards making the RH services available.
The delivery of RH services will be the main responsibility of the national government. Private hospitals are not required to provide RH services.
The bill calls for parental consent before minors get access to contraceptives and other RH services, except if they are pregnant, have given birth or had a miscarriage.
Sex education is also optional for private schools.
But Lagman said some results should be seen by 2015, the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
"Since we stil have up to 2015 to achieve our MDG commitments. I think this bill will help us approximate our goals, more particularly the reduction of infant mortality and improvement of maternal health and universal access to family planning," Lagman said.
7.5-M adolescents in public schools
Citing data from Department of Education, Lagman said a total of 7.5 million adolescents (10-19 years old) in public schools will benefit from the reproductive health education. These are pupils and students enrolled in grade 6 and high school.
Reproductive Health education is optional for private schools but Lagman is hopeful that "many private elementary and secondary schools would opt to teach reproductive health education to equally educate their pupils and students."
Under the bill, DepEd is mandated to formulate a curriculum that will be used by public schools to teach reproductive health education. - Rappler.com