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"There are no sensitive issues in reproductive health, but there are insensitive approaches to reproductive health issues."
Mona Khalifa, Assistant Representative

Overview

"Reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes." (ICPD-PoA para. 7.2) 

Access to reproductive health (RH) services is a human right. This is explicitly stated in the ICPD Programme of Action of which the Philippine Government is a signatory to both. Against this background, the ICPD through the POA marked the willingness of the Government, international community and civil society to integrated population concerns into all economic and social activities. 

The Philippines, together with the rest of the other nations, since then, the Philippines has been signatory to international conventions which recognize these rights such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1976, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1979, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1989, the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994, and the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action during the Fourth World Conference on Women (WCW) in 1995, among others. Most of these international conventions were ratified by the Philippine Congress/Senate and, therefore, the country is bound to implement and report progress in achieving them. 

At the turn of the century, the Philippines has further committed to fully support the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a commitment it made along with 191 other UN member states when it signed the Millennium Declaration in 2000, particularly on improved maternal and neonatal health by tracking progress on reducing maternal and child mortalities. In 2005, the UN General Assembly highlighted further the need to incorporate the attainment of universal access to reproductive health (RH) by 2015 under MDG 5. 

In 2000, the Department of Health issued an Administrative Order 43 series of 2000 that states the country’s support and commitment to ICPD. The Philippine government hopes to strengthen the Reproductive health Policy of the country by refocusing the implementation of RH thru two approaches: 1.) Integrating services, emphasizing quality and expanding coverage through partnership with local government units, non-governmental organizations and the private sectors within the framework of the Health Sector Reform Agenda and the 2.)Improving the general health of all Filipinos, promoting personal responsibility and empowering communities to exercise reproductive health rights within the framework of the National objectives of Health. 


The Reproductive Health Status in the Philippines

In the Philippines, 3.4 million pregnancies occur every year, half are unintended, one-third of which end in abortions (2009, Guttmacher). An estimated eleven mothers die of pregnancy-related causes every day, most of them could have been avoided in a well functioning health care delivery system. Among the leading direct causes of maternal deaths are post-partum hemorrhage, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, abortion-related complications and obstructed labor. Beyond the stark data of mortality lies a huge toll of ill health and disability due to pregnancy-related complications and infant and child deaths and deepening poverty in families where a mother has died. It is estimated that for every maternal death there is at least 20 to 30 other women who suffer from serious complications, some of which are life-long. Maternal health conditions are the leading causes of burden of disease among women. 

Only 21.6 percent of all Filipino women of them are using the modern method of contraception, 68.4 percent of these women are not currently using any method, with 9.9 percent using the traditional method. Approximately 85 percent of those not using any method become pregnant within a year. Those using traditional methods have extremely high rates of unintended pregnancy per year. 

After five and a half years of the 6th CP implementation, covering 10 provinces, 30 municipalities, and 1 city, the access to quality, integrated and gender-responsive RH information and services is still being faced with challenges in the UNFPA project sites. Major gaps in implementation have been identified. A key constraining factor is the lack of resources for ensuring an adequate supply of family planning and other RH commodities and IEC/,advocacy materials, for enrolling indigents in PHIC, for new construction and renovation of health facilities especially in the war-ravaged areas of Mindanao.and for testing innovative approaches such as the operationalization of the Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (EMONC) referral system, mobilization of Muslim religious and community leaders to support RH and functional literacy with RH as content.