THE Department of Health is expecting to be able to lay down within a six-month period its family planning program that will anchor on the strict implementation of the Reproductive Health (RH) law.
According to Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial, they are looking at that period to provide the family planning needs of couples in a bid to help them achieve the desired average number of children and the proper spacing of births.
“Women in this country have more children than they want. So in terms of implementing that, we will ensure that the unmet need for family planning becomes zero,” Dr. Ubial said.
She noted that the statement made by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on couples having only three children is not a hard target but is rather based on the statistics.
“That [three-child] is the desired number of children, the average number of children that women of reproductive age want. It is actually 2.7, so 3 is the round-off number. So that is actually their desire,” she explained.
She added that they want to make sure that the spacing of births of children will be in accordance to what they (parents) can really afford.
The new DoH chief said that the health of mothers and children is optimized or ideal if the spacing of births is three to five years.
President Duterte had earlier announced he intended to strictly implement the family planning program in the Philippines, while advocating the three-child policy.
When asked how the DoH intends to achieve such a target, given the temporary restraining order of the Supreme Court against contraceptives, Dr. Ubial said she intends to meet with other health stakeholders.
She said that aside from health workers, they will also seek advice from faith-based organizations, including the Catholic Church, which is known to reject the reproductive health law.
The SC issued twin TROs in June last year, the first of which stops the DoH from distributing, selling, and administering contraceptive implants; and the other prevents the Food and Drug Administration from acting on all applications for reproductive products and supplies, including contraceptive drugs and devices, such as implanon.