Access to family planning services still low

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Family planning and related health care services remain inaccessible to many women nationwide almost four years after the passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) law, the Commission on Population (PopCom) reported yesterday.

On the eve of International Women’s Day, the PopCom also said the Sixth State of the Population Report (SPPR 6) showed that maternal mortality in the country remained high, mainly due to delays in accessing medical care.

PopCom executive director Juan Antonio Perez III said the SPPR 6 identified three phases of delay.

First is the delay in the decision to seek care; second is the delay in reaching health facility, particularly in rural areas; and third is delay in getting health care due to lack of equipment and insufficiency of health care providers.

“These situations are alarming because a law is already enacted to ensure that these women can access proper health care services. The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law states that the national and local government are mandated to provide reproductive health care services,” Perez said.

He noted that the delay in seeking health care and the impediment in the implementation of the Reproductive Health Law are a “disrespect and injustice” to Filipino women.

Last year, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order against the use of a certain contraceptive and the decision apparently scared some health providers from giving modern family planning services.

The national government’s decision to cut the budget for family planning services this year would also have a detrimental effect on the poorest women, who rely on health centers for contraceptives, according to Perez.

The women who were advised by doctors against getting pregnant would also not be able to have access to family planning services and put their lives at risk, he added.

The PopCom released the SPPR 6 in an effort to encourage more actions on the issue of maternal mortality. The country failed to meet its target to reduce maternal mortality rate to about 50 per 100,000 live births by 2015.

Maternal deaths could be prevented with proper access to health care services, but the SPPR 6 showed a large number of Filipino women still have no access to reproductive health services.

With the coming elections and the entry of a new administration, Perez expressed confidence that the Reproductive Health Law would be implemented and more women would have access to family planning services.

Perez said all of the presidential candidates running in the May elections appeared to be supportive of the RH law.

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