PopCom hopes more pantries will hand out contraceptives to avoid unplanned pregnancies
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Population and Development (PopCom) hopes that more community pantries will give away contraceptives to help the government’s reproductive health programs and to avoid unintended pregnancies.
PopCom pointed out in a statement issued on Sunday that strict lockdowns imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic had hampered the rollout of family planning services.
“PopCom is very much supportive of community pantries as a form of collective action in alleviating the need for sustenance of our less privileged,” Health Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III, PopCom executive director, said.
“We believe that they will welcome the addition of condoms and pills among the goods they will source — with the help of their local healthcare personnel,” he added.
Perez stressed that pantries wishing to give out family planning supplies should seek the help of barangay health workers and family planning volunteers as they would know the needs of people in their locale.
“As the most popular family planning method, pills need a prescription or enrollment in the family planning program. Our BHWs and BPVs [barangay population volunteers] can be invited to assist in dispensing such,” Perez explained.
“On the other hand, condoms may be freely given to those who are sexually active and want to avoid HIV infections and other sexually transmitted infections or STIs, as well as those who are mindful of preventing unplanned pregnancies,” he added.
PopCo admitted several times in the past that the COVID-19 pandemic had greatly disrupted the delivery of reproductive health services, as the country’s health facilities are focused on beating the disease.
It was looking forward to an improved situation this year, but a COVID-19 surge forced the national government to put Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, and other areas in Cagayan Valley under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and eventually under a modified ECQ (MECQ).
In 2020, the Commission said that around 214,000 of the two million pregnancies for that year may be unexpected.
Community pantries sprouted after Metro Manila and the nearby provinces went under an ECQ bubble due to rising COVID-19 cases. With the ECQ affecting the incomes of many workers, some volunteers started food donation drives to help low-income families.
Recently, social media posts showing pantries giving out hygiene and reproductive health kits have gone viral.
Some netizens praised the move as it could help curb unintended pregnancies that could add stress to the country’s health facilities.
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