By Edgar A. Alejo
LEGAZPI CITY ---The Provincial Government of Albay yesterday celebrated the World Population Day with the launching of the Expanded Provincial Implementation Team for Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (PIT-RPRH) at Albay Astrodome here.
Hundreds of Barangay Integrated Health Workers (BIHWs) and Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNS) from across the province were sworn in as designated Focal Persons of the Albay Frontline in Barangay (ALB-RPRH). These frontline workers will lead the Advocacy, Demand Generation and Skills Enhancement Program of the RPRH in their respective barangays.
The Commission on Population (PopCom) said,it expected that the number of Filipinos will hit 105.75 million at the end of the year. Since the country’s population reached 100 million two years ago, it continues to grow at an estimated two million people a year despite a declining growth rate.
It is still the poorer sector which remained the huge segment of the population. It was noted that women from poor communities were giving birth to an average of five children compared to an average of two children for women from higher income brackets.
Teenage pregnancy also remained an urgent concern. Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority for 2016 showed that one in 10 women of child-bearing age was a teenager. Twenty-four babies are reportedly being born every hour.
One in 10 Filipino women aged 15 to 19 is already a mother or pregnant with her first child, the 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey said. This urgent concern maybe dealt with by coming together for age-appropriate sex education.
In January, President Duterte signed Executive Order No. 12 which intensified access to family planning and reproductive health services. For its part, the Provincial Government of Albay thru Executive Order No. 20, series of 2017 signed by Gov. Al Francis Bichara expanded its implementation province-wide. The EO was supported in a resolution by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Albay.
The Philippines was in the “best opportunities in history” for vigorous action on responsible parenthood and family planning. Despite the temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court on some provisions of the RH Law, particularly on use of contraceptives, Filipinos still had access to other family planning services at public and private health centers.
In Albay which comprises three cities, 15 municipalities and 720 barangays, the current population is 1,314,826 with an annual growth rate of 1.22.
In terms of nutrition, the National Nutrition Council reported that as of April this year, Albay was categorized as “mild chronically food insecure” with a proportion of 18 percent and magnitude of 253,280.
In his presentation on the Albay RH situation, Dr. Antonio Ludovice Jr., OIC-provincial health officer and PIT-RPRH chairman said that among the RH services extended all over the province in 2016 were new born screening at 91 percent; facility-based delivery at 95 percent; and modern contraceptive prevalence rate at 45.05 percent. Although 96 percent of skilled personnel were available in health centers, pregnant women visitations (at least four times) was achieved at 11 percent, he noted saying “improving RH situation is work in progress! Gradual it maybe, we are fulfilling the promise.”
A pledge of commitment, declaring commitment to the promotion and implementation of RPRH program across Albay was signed by representatives of partner-agencies and organizations including PopCom, Department of Health (DOH Bicol), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG-Albay), the Forum for Family Planning and Development, Inc., Health Action Information Network (HAIN), Filipino Freethinkers, the United Nations Population Fund, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.