LOCAL governments must step up manpower capacity and funding to sustain the rollout of reproductive health and responsible parenthood programs, according to the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM).  

The POPCOM and the Department of Health are strengthening their advocacy with local government units to further devolve reproductive health services as part of their mandate to ensure their constituentswelfare,POPCOM Officer-in-charge Executive Director Lolito R. Tacardon is quoted in a press statement on Monday.

Mr. Tacardon, speaking at a Dec. 13 forum, cited that only about 60% of local government units have allotted funds for the procurement and distribution of family planning commodities for 2023. 

He added that the budgets were usually intended for pills and implants, and rarely for permanent contraception methods, despite huge demand for the latter. 

The POPCOM official noted that Filipinos, particularly women, have become more aware of various options since the passage of Republic Act 10354, or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law in 2012. 

The RPRH Law was able to create public awareness on (sexual and reproductive health and rights) among Filipinos through which many of our women are now clamoring for commodities, acknowledging their usage as a right,Mr. Tacardon said. 

He added that reproductive health programs must include reaching out to persons with disabilities and people living in geographically isolated areas through mobile clinics.  

Governance should be continuously examined and improved to ensure enabling partnerships between national and local governments, as well as with the private sector and civil society organizations,Mr. Tacardon added. 

RA 10354 mandatesuniversal access to medically-safe, non-abortifacient, effective, legal, affordable, and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices, supplies which do not prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum as determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and relevant information and education thereon according to the priority needs of women, children and other underprivileged sectors.”  

Under the law, a persons sexual and reproductive health and rights should not be subject to discrimination. Beatriz Marie D. Cruz