'All systems go' for Pinays to avail of contraceptives from DOH
MANILA, Philippines – Filipina women can now proceed to health centers, local government units, and even civil society organizations to avail of contraceptives.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III made the announcement on Thursday, November 16, saying the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) resolution re-certifying 51 contraceptives as non-abortifacients has effectively lifted the Supreme Court’s (SC) two-year-old temporary restraining order.
“With the FDA or Food and Drug Administration’s issuance of an advisory declaring all of the 51 contraceptive products to be non-abortifacient or cannot cause abortion, it is now all systems go for the DOH to fully implement the RPRH Law or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law,” said Duque.
He said the DOH can now include subdermal plants in its family planning program.
In 2015, the SC issued a TRO against the procurement, sale, and distribution of contraceptive implant brands Implanon and Implanon NXT.
The same SC ruling barred FDA from “granting any and all pending application for reproductive products and supplies, including contraceptive drugs and devices.” This clause led to the gradual phasing out of contraceptives in the Philippine market.
Commission on Population Executive Director Juan Antion Perez III said contraceptive implants are still being delivered to health centers nationwide and would take another two weeks before Filipina women can readily avail of them.
But other contraceptives, apart from progestin-only pills, are now available in health centers.
Limited supplies to be replenished
Duque on Thursday said the DOH no longer has supplies of progrestin-only pills, while their injectable contraceptive supplies will only last for the next 6 months.
As for implants, DOH still has 261,000 products in its Manila-based warehouse. Perez said they will be prioritizing the distribution of these implants because their insertion time is set to expire by September 2018.
“Anytime after insertion, the implant wil be good for 3 years. The expiry is on the insertion, not on the product itself,” said Perez.
“That would mean roughly around 1,000 implants being inserted by local population, health, and civil society organizations throughout the next 10 months,” he added.
Still, the DOH said they still have P4.2 billion set aside for the procurement of contraceptives this year. The health department estimates they can replenish most of their most supplies by mid-next year, but it would take another 6 months for them to buy progestin-only pills.
The DOH also proposed P4.3 billion for its family planning program in 2018. – Rappler.com