Friday, July 29, 2016
Philippines - Government may run out of contraceptives by 2018
“Filipino women will be left with limited and expensive contraceptive products as the more affordable will lose their certificates. This will make the important elements of the Reproductive Health Law ineffective,” Popcom Southern Tagalog regional director Lydio Español explained.
MANILA, Philippines – The government will run out of contraceptives for Filipino women within the next two years if the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court (SC) on reproductive health products is not lifted, the Commission on Population (Popcom) said yesterday.
Around P248 million worth of contraceptive implants procured by the government could go to waste unless the SC lifts the TRO on family planning products, according to Popcom Southern Tagalog regional director Lydio Español.
Español said the certificates of registration for most family planning products sold in the market, including the sub-dermal implants purchased by the Department of Health (DOH) for its family planning campaign, have lapsed or are nearing expiration.
“If the TRO on contraceptives is not lifted, it would be impossible for these brands now available in the market to renew certification, which means the sale would no longer be allowed,” he said.
If the TRO is not lifted, Español estimated that about 90 percent of contraceptive brands would no longer be available by 2017. By 2020, only natural and permanent methods of contraception are left for Filipino women, he said.
“Filipino women will be left with limited and expensive contraceptive products as the more affordable will lose their certificates. This will make the important elements of the Reproductive Health Law ineffective,” Español explained.
He belied allegations that contraceptives are abortifacient as years of studies have shown that the different family planning methods are safe for use of women.
Popcom is targeting “zero” unmet need for contraceptives under the six-year term of the Duterte administration, Español said.
But he admitted that Popcom would have difficulty meeting the target if the high court would not lift the TRO since there would be no available methods for those in need of contraceptives.
“It’s an ambitious plan and given the reality right now of the SC TRO, it may not materialize because there won’t be enough supply of contraceptives that we intend to provide beneficiaries of 4Ps and other poor people,” he said.
With cheaper contraceptives out of the market, family planning advocates said unplanned and unwanted pregnancies would increase.
Elizabeth Angsioco, Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines Inc. president, said the TRO against contraceptive implants was anti-poor since it deprives women of the choice to space the number of their children.
“The TRO affects only poor women because those with money can readily get contraceptive implant from their doctors,” Angsioco said, noting that contraceptive implant costs as much as P10,000 in private hospitals but are given by the government for free in health centers.
Contraceptive implant is the most popular modern family planning method among poor women because of its long-lasting efficacy, Angsioco said.
“It is disturbing that in the midst of reports that in Southeast Asia, the Philippines is the only country with rising teenage pregnancy, the SC continues to be silent on the TRO,” she said.
She said lifting the TRO would be best for young Filipino women and for the country’s economy.
According to Popcom and DSWD, it has been more than a year since the High Court issued the TRO stopping the DOH from offering implanon and Implanon NXT in its family planning program.
Español said the TRO covers the granting of any and all pending applications for reproductive products.