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DOH, PopCom set to implement RH law

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said his department is committed to fully implementing the law to “promote the health and well-being of Filipino families by giving them access to appropriate services that allow them to attain their family life aspirations.” File

DOH, PopCom set to implement RH law

Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - November 13, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) and the Commission on Population (PopCom) are set to fully implement the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RH) law after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared all 51 questioned contraceptive products as non-abortifacient. ?

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said his department is committed to fully implementing the law to “promote the health and well-being of Filipino families by giving them access to appropriate services that allow them to attain their family life aspirations.”

“We assure everyone that the full and strict implementation of the RH law will be fair, even handed and not adversely affect our people’s health,” he said.

Duque noted that all public health officials should defer to the technical expertise of regulatory agencies like the FDA and to the wisdom of the Supreme Court (SC) in formulating legal opinions.?He is also optimistic that the entire public health sector, including related government agencies, civil society and private sector partners, will extend their “full cooperation in the smooth and expeditious implementation of the program that is crucial in advancing the reproductive health of women, men and adolescents and the socioeconomic agenda of the Philippine government.”?

PopCom executive director Juan Antonio Perez III said his office would be on a “catch-up mode” to make up for the time when the law could not be implemented due to the temporary restraining order (TRO) the SC issued on contraceptives.

“The FDA action now means that the RH implementation team headed by former health secretary Esperanza Cabral has its work cut out in the coming year: fill in the gaps in the short term while DOH moves forward with the procurement of recertified contraceptives,” he added.?

He noted that yesterday marked the full effectivity of the revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the RH law published 15 days ago.

The lifting of the TRO, Perez pointed out, would allow the health department to start procuring commodities using its 2017 budget.

“All Filipinos working for women’s health should rejoice at this development,“ Perez said.

The FDA is due to submit its resolution certifying the 51 products, including Implanon and Implanon NXT, as “medically safe and non-abortifacient” so the SC could lift the TRO it issued in November 2015.

Family planning advocates celebrated the declaration, saying the law could now be fully implemented after two years of waiting.

Junice Melgar, executive director of Likhaan Center for Women’s Health, is happy with the outcome and hopes that no roadblock will stand in the way of implementation of the law.

Benjamin de Leon, The Forum for Family Planning and Development president, described the new FDA findings as a welcome development for millions of Filipinos who called for the TRO lifting.

He said the major barrier to the family planning program is finally removed and Filipinos can avail themselves of the whole range of quality family planning products and services.

“This means that after a protracted legal battle, the Reproductive Health law will now be fully implemented,” he said. 

The Forum is one of the pro-RH groups which filed for a motion for reconsideration of the high court’s decision stopping the implementation of the RH law. – With Mayen Jaymalin

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