Community pantry organizers urged to give condoms, pills

The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) has urged community pantry organizers to include contraceptives, such as condoms and pills, in their list of commodities for distribution.

In a statement on Monday, May 3, POPCOM said that dispensing such commodities could help prevent unwanted and unplanned pregnancies during the health crisis.

The agency added that distributing contraceptions in pantries should also be seen as "filling a void in the rollout of family planning activities, which are greatly disrupted by the pandemic."

For more than a year now, the Philippines has been placed in different levels of quarantine classifications, which meant that hundreds of thousands of women have not been able to easily access birth control methods.

According to the projections of the University of the Philippines Population Institute and the United Nations Population Fund, an estimated 214,000 babies will be born this year.

"POPCOM is very much supportive of community pantries as a form of collective action in alleviating the need for sustenance of our less privileged. We believe that they will welcome the addition of condoms and pills among the goods they will source — with the help of their local healthcare personnel," said Undersecretary for Population and Development Juan Antonio Perez.

Perez added that including contraceptives in pantries should also be in coordination with local health personnel like barangay health workers (BHWs), as well as family planning and barangay population volunteers (BPVs), because they know who among in their locality need pills and condoms.

"As the most popular family planning method, pills need a prescription or enrollment in the family planning program. Our BHWs and BPVs can be invited to assist in dispensing such," Perez said.

Perez added that condoms may be given to those who are sexually active and want to avoid human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections and other sexually transmitted diseases.

POPCOM has also directed its regional units to take part in community pantries in partnership with their local health officials.

"These cover the re-supply of the commodities to their existing family planning clients, the provision of onsite family planning information via distribution of related printed materials and installation of tarpaulins featuring family planning methods, and the extension of possible assistance that LGUs may request — subject to resources available," the agency said.

Meanwhile, POPCOM said that those who will avail of the contraceptives must observe minimum health standards when going out. –

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.