Despite a decline in adolescent pregnancies in the Philippines, live births among girls aged 10 to 14 have increased in 2020 and 2021, with 17 percent being repeat pregnancies.
Limited access to reproductive health information and services is a contributing factor. This underscores the importance of promoting youth reproductive rights and informed decision-making, aligning with the ‘Your Life Your Choice’ theme for this year’s World Contraception Day, endorsed by numerous international organizations dedicated to advancing global youth sexual and reproductive health and rights.
“We’ve had a lot of progress over the years in increasing access to modern contraception,” says Angel-Michael Evangelista, Managing Director and Country Division Head of Pharmaceuticals, Bayer Philippines. “But we still need to continue providing young people with access to accurate, expert information on reproductive health and contraception.”
“CPD recognizes and upholds the inherent rights of every Filipino to make informed decisions with regard to family planning and contraception. This year’s WCD themes of ‘Your Life, Your Choice’ and locally: ‘Usap Tayo sa Family Planning,’ capture the essence of exercising those rights, which aim to ultimately benefit Filipino women and young girls into enjoying their full potential and capacities as contributors to the country’s human capital development,” emphasized Executive Director Dr. Lisa Grace S. Bersales, Ph.D., who likewise serves as country’s undersecretary for Population and Development (CPD).
Bersales stressed the importance of partnerships with allies like Bayer Philippines, the FORUM, and like-minded groups to support Filipino family planning and contraception rights.
“Alongside reproductive health rights and choices, the young people remain to be an area of concern, we need to note that all adolescent pregnancies are high risk for complications and even dying,” said Dr. Corazon Raymundo, the FORUM President.
In the past seven years, while working with different organizations, Bayer and CPD included, The Forum has been actively engaging with the education and health sectors to advance adolescent reproductive health and support the implementation of comprehensive sexuality education.
“Young people are an essential component of a sustainable future. However, without the necessary knowledge and the accompanying tools and services, their path toward a healthy and fulfilled life can be hindered. We believe that it is our collective responsibility to ensure that young people have the means to exercise their rights and contribute to society on their own terms”, Dr. Raymundo added.
Reducing the number of women who find themselves in this situation correlates with elevating economic growth, socio-economic development, and promoting public health. It has therefore never been more important to enable women in LMICs to make informed contraceptive choices, by providing more development opportunities and aid schemes that can foster access to contraception.
Complementing the upcoming World Contraception Day, Bayer also launched Bayer For Her: Conversations of Care in the Philippines on August 30, opening an initial series of free pop-up consultation clinics over the next two months at selected partner drug stores to encourage more women to seek out expert advice on reproductive health.
These pop-up clinics aim to help create safe spaces for women to speak up and normalize conversations about their reproductive health concerns, address common misconceptions and the barriers to why they do not consult with their doctors, and get the support they need.