All systems go for 51 contraceptives
The Department of Health (DOH) will soon procure 51 different types of contraceptives and resume their distribution after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared that these birth control drugs and devices do not cause abortion, or nonabortifacients.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Thursday announced “all systems go” for the full implementation of the Reproductive Health (RH) law after the FDA advisory, and the DOH would begin by replenishing its supply of contraceptives.
Congress passed the law, which allows contraceptives, in 2012 but the Supreme Court imposed a temporary restraining order (TRO) in 2015 after Roman Catholic bishops said some drugs and devices caused abortions.
Abortion, divorce and same-sex union are not allowed in the Philippines and some lawmakers oppose artificial methods of family planning. Pills and condoms are sold freely.
The procurement and distribution of the 51 contraceptives, including the controversial Implanon and Implanon NXT, were halted by the TRO.
“The DOH supply for progestin-only pills (POP) is zero while the supply for the injectable contraceptives have already been consumed,” said Duque.
Duque told reporters they would prioritize the distribution of the remaining 250,000 subdermal implants stocked in a DOH warehouse.
The Commission on Population (Popcom) is looking to initially procure enough POP and injectables to supply 400,000 women for a year, according to its executive director, Dr. Juan Perez III.
These two types of contraceptives were the most popular, Perez said.
“We can now buy contraceptives. Hopefully, the procurement system will be able to cope with our demands,” he said.
He added that they expected more women to avail themselves of the contraceptives in addition to the 6 million who now use them.
“With the RH law now to be fully implemented, maybe we will get over a million new ones annually,” said Perez.
According to Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo, the DOH has a budget of about P4.2 billion for “family planning commodities” for 2017.
Bayugo said they had a budget proposal of P4.3 billion for contraceptives for 2018.
Duque said he was willing to discuss the RH law with Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, who had threatened to question the proposed 2018 DOH budget.
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