Use of modern family planning methods in PH rose in 2015 – report

MANILA, Philippines – Despite a Supreme Court (SC) temporary restraining order (TRO) that affected the implementation of the Reproductive Health (RH) law, the use of modern family planning methods in the country still increased in 2015, according to a recent report from the health department.

Released on Wednesday, June 22, the second consolidated report on the implementation of the RH law revealed the use of modern family planning methods in the country was at 43.8% in 2015 – an increase from 41.14% in 2014.

It has been steadily increasing over the years, from 33.4% in 2003, 34% in 2008, and 37.6% in 2013. 

Unfortunately, the growth in national modern contraceptive prevalence rate (mCPR) was not able to catch up with the increase in eligible population, since the eligible population of women in reproductive age grew by 1.9% every year, while mCPR only increased by 1.78%.

As of 2013, the unmet need for modern family planning methods is still very high at 18%. Of this number, 7% want to space births, and 11% want to stop giving birth.

The report noted that women without any formal education have the highest levels of unmet need (24%), while women with higher levels of education have the lowest unmet need (16%).

"Almost 5.5 million women are using modern family planning methods," the report read. Below is a breakdown of the number of current users of short acting, long acting, and permanent methods:

Former health secretary Esperanza Cabral, who chairs the National Implementation Team of the RH law, said 2015 was the year many of the policies aligned with the RH law were put in place. These policies, she said, will "make it easier and more effective for the law to be implemented."

"Secretary [Janette] Garin provided a lot of resources for service delivery, although we're still in the infant stage of the engagement of civil society organizations [CSOs] with the Department of Health in the delivery of family planning services, as well as adolescent youth and reproductive health services," Cabral said on Wednesday, during the launch of the report.

The biggest challenge in improving access to family planning methods is the TRO on the health department's distribution and sale of implants, a contraceptive that can prevent pregnancies for up to 3 years.

The SC also prohibited the Food and Drug Administration from "granting any and all pending application for reproductive products and supplies, including contraceptive drugs and devices."

Wednesday's report said this TRO poses "a serious threat to the availability of modern contraceptives in the local market – both public and private."

It recommended the mobilization of other sectors to lobby for the lifting of the TRO. In the meantime, the report said the capacities of CSOs and private providers to provide RH services – including implants – should be maximized.

In 2015, a total of P40.70 billion was allocated for the implementation of the RH law:

Aside from updates on modern family planning methods, there were 4 other key areas in the accomplishment report:

According to the report, out of the estimated 1.5 million live births in 2015, an estimated 1.2 million (77%) live births were covered by Department of Health (DOH) facilities. These are facility-based deliveries, and not home deliveries.

The Philippines in 2015 did not meet its Millennium Development Goal to reduce maternal mortality in the country. Wednesday's report noted that maternal mortality ratio that year "has not substantially declined and remains at almost similar levels" as the 1993 National Demographic and Health Survey (209 per 100,000 live births) and the 2011 Family Health Survey (221 per 100,000 live births).

On child health and nutrition, meanwhile, the report cited the 2015 Food and Nutrition Research Institute Survey which revealed that the prevalence for both underweight and stunting among under-five children has increased from 2013 to 2015:

The PopCom has engaged 18,140 adolescents through its U4U educational caravan, which raises awareness on adolescent health and youth development concerns. (READ: Young, tech-savvy Filipinos more sexually active than you think)

Over 25 hospitals nationwide also provided adolescent sexuality and reproductive health services through the Program for Young Parents. In 2015, the program provided counseling services to 134,000 young people.

The health department's human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination campaign, meanwhile, vaccinated 272,955 girls aged 9 to 10 with their first dose of HPV immunization, which will protect them from cervical cancer – the second most common type of cancer among women.

The health department allotted P324 million from its budget for the prevention, treatment, and management of sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS in the country.

Anti-retroviral drugs worth P220 million were procured in 2015 and will be delivered in 2016 to benefit more than 15,000 people living with HIV who need antiretroviral therapy.

To date, a total of 13,908 people living with HIV are on antiretroviral therapy. The health department said that as of April 2016, the cumulative number of HIV cases since 1984 is already at 33,419.

"Eliminating violence against women [VAW] and children and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence is a critical component of the [RH] law, both as a human rights and public health issue," the report read.

The report said that as of December 2015, 36,577 or 87% of the 42,029 barangays in the country have already established VAW desks. This is beyond the 83% target for 2016.

A total of 3,256 new VAW desks were established in 2015. Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

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