LEGAZPI CITY --- The plan of the Albay Provincial Health Office (APHO) to distribute condoms to high school students to prevent the rising cases of the HIV Aids and teenage pregnancy in the province was slammed by a church-based organization as well as the Department of Education (DepEd).
Antonio Ludovice acting Albay provincial health officer said they would be giving out condoms to high schools students in various public and private schools in the province as a health measure following reports that HIV Aids and teenage pregnancy have been on the rising trend in Bicol especially in Albay.
DOH HIV data showed that 71 cases were reported in 2017, an additional 35 newly diagnosed cases were recorded in 2018 bringing it to 106 or 33 percent increase.
Ludovice said, “This makes Albay the number one among Bicol provinces in the reported cases of HIV.”
The province is confronted with three health issues this includes the rising HIV cases, teenage pregnancy, and high birth deliveries.
Child pregnancy cases in Albay continue to rise with 1,469 cases in 2017, 1,423 in 2018, and 118 cases in January and February. Records also show that five teenagers have died while giving birth since 2015.
“one of the reasons for the rising number of HIV cases was people had been liberal when engaging in pre-marital sex specifically the youth whose age ranges from 13 to 19,” he said.
Among the effective health strategies that could control and prevent the rising number of HIV cases and teenage pregnancies is aggressive information and advocacy, this includes the distribution of condoms in hotels, public places, including schools, Ludovice said in a phone interview.
He said, “we are not encouraging promiscuity behavior among the youth but these health issues should be given attention, someone would take the cudgels, that why I am doing this.”
As this developed, Gilbert Sadsad Department of Education (DepEd) regional director in an interview said the agency would not allow the distribution of condoms and contraceptive in schools.
He said that if the Albay provincial health office would insist, he would bring this matter to Education Secretary Leonor Briones for her to issue an official statement.
Fr. Al Ray Compuesto, of the Commission on the Youth of the Diocese of Legazpi in an interview, said has expressed opposition to the distribution of condoms in schools.
He said, “saddened that while the church is celebrating the Year of the Youth, the gift to our youth is condom instead of teaching them the importance of their welfare and their role in the community.”
“Can’t they look for other ways to address these health issues rather than giving condoms, the school serves as the second home of the youth were they learn many things about life, environment, and God,” Compuesto said.
Asked what action would they take he said they would write the DepEd about their stand on this matter and issue a pastoral circular to all churches in Albay opposing the plan to distribute condoms in schools.
Ludovice when asked to comment said they would coordinate with the church and the DepEd concerning this health program but he insisted that he would continue to implement the advocacy drive versus HIV and teenage pregnancy.