Unfinished business: The pursuit of rights and choices for all
(The Philippine Star) - April 17, 2019 - 12:00am

State Of World Population 2019

(Second of two parts)

Much has been achieved in the Philippines since 1969. The average number of births per woman was 6.0 in 1973. Today it is 2.7, even though the country has the highest total fertility rate in the ASEAN region. In order to reach the national target of 2.1 average number of births per woman under the Philippine Development Plan (PDP), the Philippines needs to step up its efforts.

“UNFPA takes pride in having partnered with the Philippines and witnessed together so many remarkable achievements together in the areas of sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights in the last five decades. And yet, there should not be complacency. Much more needs to be done to empower those who are not yet able to enjoy their rights and whose choices are still constrained,” says UNFPA Philippines Representative Iori Kato.

According to the 2017 Philippines National Demographic and Health Survey, about 17 percent of currently married women aged 15-49 have expressed intention to space or limit their children but are not using any method of family planning. Such proportion of unmet need for family planning services is highest among adolescents at 28 percent.

The fulfillment of sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights is key to reducing poverty in the country. The PDP 2017-2022 contains a specific chapter on Reaching for the Demographic Dividend; this chapter emphasizes the fact that reducing fertility through increasing access for young people to reproductive health information and services is a necessary pre-condition for the demographic dividend to be realized.

The Philippine Government is a champion of the ICPD and President Rodrigo R. Duterte is committed to ending the unmet need for family planning, reflected in the recently revamped National Program on Population and Family Planning (NPPFP) to accelerate the full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act.

 “The Philippine Government remains strong in its commitment to fulfill the promise of the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action, to put people at the center of sustainable development and to pursue the realization of every Filipino’s sexual and reproductive rights,” said Dr. Juan Antonio A. Perez III, Under-Secretary for Population and Development and Executive Director of POPCOM.

To finish the unfinished business of the ICPD, governments, activists and stakeholders will rally at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 to be held on 12-14 November to sustain the gains made so far, and fulfill the promise of the ICPD agenda. Most countries, including the Philippines, need to build on the foundation of the past achievements to reach those who have been left behind and make sexual and reproductive health and rights a reality for all.

Facts and figures on the Philippines:

Number of deaths of women from pregnancy-related causes per 100,000 live births: 121 in 1994; 114 in 2015 (SWOP, 2019)

Modern contraceptive prevalence rate among currently-married women: 11 in 1973; 25 in 1993; 40 in 2017 (NDS, 1993; NDHS, 2017)

Total fertility rate, or average number of births per women: 6.0 in 1973; 4.1 in 1993; 2.7 in 2017 (NDS, 1993; NDHS, 2017)

Percent women 15-19 years old who have begun childbearing: 6.5 in 1993; 8.6 in 2017 (NDS, 1993; NDHS, 2017)

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