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PHL must step up efforts to improve Filipinas’ reproductive rights — UNFPA

While a lot has been achieved in the past few decades to improve  reproductive health and rights in the Philippines, there is still much to do, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said.

According to UNFPA’s State of World Population Report 2019, the Philippines has yet to reduce the average number of births per woman and reach the national target of 2.1 births per woman, as stated under the Philippine Development Plan (PDP).

The average number of births per woman is currently 2.7.

This is already a far cry from the 6.0 average in 1973.

"The fulfillment of sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights is key to reducing poverty in the country," UNFPA said in a statement on Monday.

The UNFPA is marking the 50th anniversary of its operations and the 25 years since the landmark International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, where 179 governments agreed on a call for all people to have access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including voluntary family planning, and safe pregnancy and childbirth services.

More women have since gotten access to the resources they need in order to be able to decide for themselves whether, when, and how often to get pregnant.

Still, not everyone are able to exercise their reproductive health rights, UNFPA said.

Unmet need in PHL

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.

However, they are not using any method of family planning.

"Such proportion of unmet need for family planning services is highest among adolescents at 28 percent," UNFPA said.

UNFPA Philippines representative Iori Kato said that the Philippines should further empower those whose choices are still constrained.

“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,” he said.

The Philippine Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) said that the government is committed to give every Filipino access to their reproductive rights.

“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 POPCOM Executive Director and Undersecretary for Population and Development Dr. Juan Antonio A. Perez III. — Jessica Bartolome/BM, GMA News