Lockdown babies: 2 million births expected this year — PopCom
MANILA, Philippines — Two million Filipino women are expected to give birth this year, of which 214,000 are unplanned pregnancies, perceived to be related to women’s increased time at home due to the COVID-19 lockdowns, authorities said on Thursday.
Citing a University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) study on the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact, the Commission on Population and Development (PopCom) said that 10 percent of these births would come from women aged 20 and below.
PopCom chief and Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III said that aside from the lockdowns, families’ lack of access to family planning supplies because of work and travel restrictions prior to the easing of quarantine measures also contribute to the expectations.
“Looking at these numbers, we foresee that because of the restrictions of movement as well as the reduction of access of women and men to family planning supplies, there will be at least one pregnancy for every three women with an unmet need for family planning,” Perez said.
PopCom said that the study shows that there would be 590,000 more women aged 15 to 49 years old who would not have any access to family planning services due to the enhanced community quarantine over Luzon and other areas and the general community quarantine in other parts of the country.
This brings the nationwide total of women without access to family planning measures from 3.099 million to 3.688 million — a 19 percent jump, PopCom notes.
“Those are just some of the adverse impacts of the community quarantine to the welfare of our families, which further aggravates the situation of the ongoing health crisis,” Perez added.
What is worse, according to PopCom, is that the number of teenagers or those aged 15 to 19 years old who would not be provided their family planning needs would increase from 163,000 to 178,000.
Then, contraceptive use percentage is set to decline by 2.2 percent, with 400,000 women leaving the country’s family planning program.
Last March — when lockdown measures were still relatively new — PopCom warned couples to avoid unplanned pregnancies during the implementation of the stay-at-home policy, as the country’s health systems are already burdened with the COVID-19 response.
As of Wednesday, the Philippines has 32,295 confirmed COVID-19 cases, one of the highest infection rates in the Southeast Asian region. Deaths due to the coronavirus in the country are at 1,204, while 8,656 patients have recovered.
Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman, a staunch supporter of the Reproductive Health Law, urged the government last April to start distributing contraceptives and condoms to avoid a generation of babies made during the lockdown periods.
These numbers should be a resounding call for people to practice family planning, the attention is still aimed at the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While the numbers are staggering, this should sound the alarm for everyone that, as the pandemic rages on, family planning should still be top-of-mind for everyone,” Perez said.
“Not only for those directly involved in service-delivery, but also for all men and women—mothers and fathers, and even our teenage children—who can make a difference by doing their very best to avoid being added as a statistic to the abovementioned numbers; that is, to ensure that they help reduce the incidences of unplanned pregnancies,” he added.
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