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Empowered with options



Zamboanga City (ZC) Vice Mayor Rommel Agan receives Your Life plaque from Valenzuela City Representative Dr. Bernadetter Bordador of the City Health Office. Also in the photo are (from left) Reynaldo Wong, Regional Director- IX, Commission on Population and Development; Dr. Carmela Luisa Pagunsan, country medical director, Bayer Philippines; Rosalie Mendoza, ZC City Health Office coordinator and Dr. Myra Aranan, medical coordinator, Family Planning Program, ZC City Health Office.

The Philippines observed World Contraception Day (WCD) on 26 September at the Garden Orchid Hotel in Zamboanga City. The event has been celebrated globally since 2007 focusing on a vision where every pregnancy is wanted. This year’s theme was “Power of Options.”

According to the 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), Filipino women, on average, have one child more than intended; and the figures are highest among women from the lowest wealth quintile and lowest educational attainment. Data shows roughly one in 10 women aged 15 to 19 have begun childbearing and 17 percent of women aged 15 to 49 want to practice family planning (FP) but do not have access to FP methods.

This year, The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) in partnership with Bayer Philippines, The Forum for Family Planning and Development and the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society will bring the national celebration to the grass roots level.

Health and family planning services will be offered to individuals from barangays in Zamboanga City. The city will also be showcased as the second “Advocate City” for this year, as its unmet need for family planning increased from 21.0 in 2013 to 24.6 in 2017, according to the 2017 NDHS.

Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III, the executive director of POPCOM, said, “FP is not just about access to contraceptives but also a human development issue, as we empower women and couples to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health and rights.”

Perez stressed that the government is determined to respect, promote and ultimately fulfill the promise of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health law, which was fortunately signed during the latter days of the Benigno S. Aquino administration despite resistance from the Catholic church and other religious groups.

“FP campaign materials launched today will be disseminated all over the country as part of our expanded mandate in the implementation of the Philippine Population Management Program (PPMP). Working together with various stakeholders that have a common interest in family planning and sexual health is the best way to move forward. We believe that joining the World Contraception Day coalition is a strong effort in the implementation of the PPMP,” Dr. Perez added.