January 11, 2017
The joint efforts of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and Department of Health (DOH) to push further the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act (RPRH Law) has been realized with the signing of the Executive Order (EO) on “Zero Unmet Need for Family Planning” last January 9, 2017.
This order aims to intensify and accelerate the implementation of critical actions necessary to attain and sustain “zero unmet need for modern family planning” for all poor households by 2018, and all of Filipinos thereafter. It also enjoins three key national government agencies DOH, Commission on Population (POPCOM) and Department of the Interior Local Government (DILG) and all local government units to accelerate mechanisms and strategies to attain the said purpose through the strict implementation of the RPRH Law.
Mandated to support the EO are eight national government agencies namely: DOH, Department of Social Welfare and Development, National Youth Commission, National Economic and Development Authority, DILG, Philippine Commission on Women, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and POPCOM.
“The TRO affects 7.3 million Filipino women, most of which belong to the lowest wealth quintile with high unmet need for Family Planning,” POPCOM Executive Director Dr. Juan Antonio A. Perez said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has been vocal about the need for Family Planning program in the country and even stressed the full implementation of the RPRH Law in his first State of the Nation Address.
"The implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law must be put into full force and effect so that couples, especially the poor, will have freedom of informed choice in the number and spacing of children they can adequately care and provide for, eventually making them more productive members of the labor force,” he said.
The EO defined unmet need as “couples and women who are fecund and sexually active and want to limit or space their children but are not using any modern method of contraception.”
This gap between a woman’s intention to use and her contraceptive behavior are being hindered by many factors; one of which is the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court in 2015 banning Implanon and Implanon NXT, a form of subdermal implant that inhibit ovulation for up to three years.
Where there are many challenges that hamper our population management programs, the EO on unmet need strives to redeem our long fought RPRH Law victory and push forth our desire to achieve happy, healthy and empowered Filipino families.