Calling it a “momentous event” in the history of health care in the country, the Department of Health on Friday approved the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the reproductive health law.
“This is just the beginning of our continuing effort to ensure that no woman will die while giving life,” said Health Secretary Enrique Ona.
The controversial law’s full implementation begins on Easter Sunday, the greatest feast of the Catholic Church, celebrating the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead. The Church remains adamantly against the RH law.
“That was unintended. We really did not see that. We were having a hearing when someone pointed it out and we were like, ‘Oops!,’” said DOH Assistant Secretary Madeleine Valera.
Ona said the signing of the IRR of the “Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law of 2012” was vital in the implementation of the government’s universal health care policy which aims to reduce maternal deaths and improve overall reproductive health.
“The (RH) law will empower women, through informed choice and voluntarism, improve access to information, facilities and services, increased stability and sustainability of health policy across national and local government,” Ona said in a statement.
“(It will) institutionalize the partnerships between national and local governments, and recognize the important roles and contribution of civil society organizations, basic sectors, academe and private sector,” he added.
Prolife groups have challenged the legality of the law before the Supreme Court while some Catholic dioceses are now actively campaigning against lawmaker candidates who voted for the law.
Valera said the IRR will be published in newspapers this weekend and will take effect on March 31, Easter Sunday.
She said representatives of the government, civil society and the Church had reached a consensus on two issues—including both artificial and natural family planning services in the coverage of PhilHealth and provisions on “conscientious objectors” to the law.
Ona pointed out the highlights of the IRR which include the enhancement of health service delivery, providing mobile health clinics in remote and depressed areas, improving PhilHealth coverage, hiring and training of skilled health professionals, and the continuous monitoring and review of reproductive health programs.
First posted 8:03 pm | Friday, March 15th, 2013