DOH to ‘pursue but won’t rush’ condoms distribution in schools
MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) will push through with its plan to distribute condoms in schools despite criticisms from different groups, including the Catholic Church.
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial assured the program’s critics that in implementing the program, the DOH would take it one step at a time.
“We are taking this one step at a time because we really have to win the cooperation of the teachers and school health professionals. We cannot do this alone in the DOH. There has to be cooperation,” Ubial said in an interview on Monday.
Sen. Tito Sotto has been opposing the planned distribution of condoms to students and has warned Ubial that she might not get the approval of the Commission on Appointments (CA) if she pushes through with the plan.
The Quezon City government, on the other hand, has rejected the distribution of condoms in its public schools.
Mayor Herbert Bautista said they would not allow Quezon City public schools to become distribution hubs of contraceptives.
Ubial expressed respect for the opinion of her critics.
“They are entitled to their own opinion, we respect that. But we will implement programs that will ensure the health and well-being of the Filipino. We are duty-bound to implement scientifically sound and efficacious health interventions even if it is unpopular to certain sectors or people. Trabaho lang, walang personalan (Just work, nothing personal),” Ubial said.
“Our call to them, do not impose your beliefs on others that believe otherwise. Thank you for making noise and keeping the discussion alive. Let us continue to be engaged, concerned and give options to our people, especially young people,” she said.
Ubial said the DOH has been discussing the guidelines with the Department of Education (DepEd).
“What we are trying to put in place are the guidelines. After that, there will be training and capacity building. We know it would be difficult to open the floodgates of information but the school system and providers of counseling are not prepared,” the DOH chief said.
She added that the DepEd wanted to ensure that teachers would be trained for the task.
“This is one thing that the school system is not prepared for. And also the Philippine culture and society, to talk about sexuality and sex and the reproductive health in general because it is considered taboo in the country, especially for children. So we really have to prepare the entire system and the entire community for this particular program,” Ubial said.
Amid the rising number of cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes the dreaded Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), in the Philippines, the DOH previously announced that it has been eyeing to adopt the “business unusual” strategy. This includes distributing condoms in schools, specifically in school clinics, in order to help educate students on HIV/AIDS. SFM/rga
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