Philippines’ World Contraception Day celebration aims to raise awareness on reproductive health, contraceptives
The Philippines has one of the fastest population growth rate in Southeast Asia of about 1.5 million Filipinos being added to the population every year. A study of the United Nations Population Division projected the country’s population to hit 117.6 million by 2025 and 125.3 million by 2030, the second highest in the region. This was the revelation made during a first-ever forum to celebrate World Contraception Day (WCD) in the Philippines.
Aside from the unsustainable population growth rate which can negatively impact the health of Filipino families and the nation’s development efforts, the first WCD Forum also revealed the various challenges of government agencies, non-profit advocacy groups, and the private sector in bringing reproductive health options closer to the general public.
“There is a need to constantly review our policies on reproductive health – is it addressing the needs of the public? Is it effective? Reproductive health is an important aspect of the government’s thrust for inclusive economic growth. It is vital that every family will plan the number of children based on how many they can support to reach their full potential,” said Dr. Juan Antonio Perez III, Executive Director of the Commission on Population (POPCOM), during the forum held at the Asian Center of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
It is the first time that the Philippines has joined the WCD celebration throughout its 11-year history. World Contraception Day is the annual highlight of the global campaign, Your Life, which aims to improve awareness on contraception and reproductive health and is supported by a coalition of international partners and Bayer, a global life-science company.
One of the topics underscored during the event was how most of the responsibility in family planning is thrust into the hands of women with men taking a more passive stance.
“Reproductive health and family planning are mutual responsibilities of the two partners. As the adage goes, it takes two to tango,” said Benjamin de Leon, President of the non-profit organization The Forum for Family Planning and Development Inc.
The first WCD forum also discussed the various obstacles healthcare workers face in bringing reproductive health to those who need it most.
“It is important for us that we bring conversations on reproductive health and contraceptives to see the light of day – we want it normalized. Through the World Contraception Day campaign led by our coalition of international and local partners, we joined forces to create and enhance the awareness and underline the importance of empowering young people to learn about contraception and proactively talk about it with their healthcare providers and partners,” said Junil Kim, Bayer Pharmaceuticals country division head.
The first WCD forum ended with the City of Valenzuela receiving a symbolic key as a sign of its commitment to improve reproductive health access among its constituency. “By engaging the people on the ground, we see a clearer picture of the reproductive health, or lack of it, in the country. The commitment of Valenzuela City will be a model for other local governments who want to contribute towards bringing better reproductive health to their people,” said Juan Antonio Perez III POPCOM Executive Director.
The country’s first WCD celebration was conducted with the support from the Commission on Population, The Forum for Family Planning and Development Inc., Philippine Society of Reproductive Medicine, and students. Bayer, a global advocate for women’s health, together with its partners, believe that this is a giant step forward for the country as it continues to work to achieve its vision of a world where every pregnancy is wanted.