Cut in DOH budget affects access to reproductive health services
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—A cut in the budget of the Department of Health (DOH) intended for purchase of a new type of contraceptive could mean lesser access for women to reproductive health services in Northern Mindanao, a government official said.
According to Jeremias Gupit, Region 10 director of the Commission on Population (Popcom), around P200 million was slashed from DOH’s supplemental budget for 2020.
The said amount is not part of the P10.6 billion DOH budget that was cut by Congress.
Gupit said the amount was intended for the procurement of the contraceptive called progestin subdermal implant (PSI).
Northern Mindanao has about 613,836 women of reproductive age, or some 11 percent of its projected population of 5.5 million.
The health department has apportioned only 800 pieces of PSI for Northern Mindanao for this year, the lowest allocation among the regions, Gupit noted.
Gupit said their stock of the PSI is only good for two to three months, or until June.
After that, he said, Popcom-10 will run out of PSIs and that would deprive thousands of women of reproductive health care.
He said it would have an impact on many married women as PSI has become a popular birth control method in the region.
Due to the limited number of PSIs, Gupit said they have rationed it to the region’s 88 municipalities, distributing a meager 20 pieces per rural health facility.
Because of the budget cut, he said the government has failed to give people a wide range of contraceptive choices.
Lawyer Pilipinas Palma, Commission on Human Rights-10 (CHR-10) legal officer, said this deprivation of basic services is another violation of Republic Act 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women Act of 2009, especially on reproductive health.
“Why was the budget cut? We will continue to advocate for the implementation of the Magna Carta of Women,” Palma said.
She said the CHR has been designated as the “gender ombudsman,” which monitors any enforcement of laws on the promotion of rights of women and children.
Palma said the CHR-10 has already documented Popcom-10’s budget concern to their central office for proper action.
Meanwhile, the Department of Education has noted 586 cases of pregnancies among high school students from June to December 2019.
“That is like three teenage student pregnancies each day,” said Dr. Myra Yee, Deped-10 medical officer.
Yee said the situation is alarming since these students are minors and their bodies are not yet fully developed for child-bearing.
She said there are 1.3 million elementary and high school students enrolled in 2,500 public and private schools in the region.
Of these, 307,900 are in junior high school and 72,542 in senior high school.
Among the biggest factor for these pregnancies is the heavy influence of the internet and social media, Yee said.
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