P2B for reproductive health remains untapped

P2B for reproductive health remains untapped
By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
INQUIRER.net First Posted 17:47:00 07/08/2009 Filed Under: Population,
Health, Women, Justice & Rights, Philippines – Regions

MANILA, Philippines — Close to P2 billion allocated for last year’s
reproductive health programs in the country remained untapped, a
health official said Wednesday.

Of the P2-billion allocated by Congress for the program in 2008, only
P180 million has so far been released to local communities for
commodities and trainings, said Dr. Yolanda Oliveros, director of the
National Center for Disease Prevention Control of the Department of

Except for Davao Del Norte and Pampanga, all local government units
received funds from the P180 million, she said.

Less than 10 percent of the amount has been released because of the
set procedure, she said.

Based on the criteria set by the DoH, such as the number of poor women
of reproductive age in each municipality, local government units need
to sign a memorandum of agreement with the department to get the fund.

”We have protocols to follow and along that line dun nagkakaroon ng
mga delays,” she said in an interview.

Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros said the delay in the release
of funds for reproductive health deprives women and families adequate
access to relevant information and quality reproductive health care
and supplies.

She said Malacanang and the DoH should see to it that funds are
released on time.

Moreover, the P180 million was spent for “administrative cost” and not
for the actual implementation of the program, said Iloilo
Representative Janet Garin, another advocate of reproductive health.

”They used that for administrative cost, for example, seminars of the
DoH staff or of local government personnel but we don’t really know if
it’s reproductive health they would implement,” she said in a phone

Although Health Secretary Francisco Duque III believes in the program,
Garin said, she is not sure if he has the political will to implement

To address the problem, the Iloilo congresswoman also proposed that
instead of giving all the funds to the local government units, the DoH
can tie up with reputable non-government organizations that can
implement reproductive health.

For a coordinated action on the issue, Congress needs to pass the
reproductive health bill, she said.

Right now, each local government unit adopts and implements its own

Advocates of reproductive health gathered on Wednesday in Club
Filipino for a forum on “Reproductive Health: A Priority Agenda in

Nacionalista Party spokesman Gilbert Remulla said that if the party’s
candidate for president, Senator Manuel Villar, is elected in May
2010, reproductive health proponents would have an “ally” in

But when asked for details, he said his party is still formulating its
agenda on population management.

Former congressman Nereus Acosta, a member of the Liberal Party and
who has expressed intention to run for senator next year, said it was
high time to have a national policy on reproductive health.

Aurora province Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo said that in the
absence of a law, local governments should take the initiative to
formulate the solution to the growing population in their localities.

Angara-Castillo said that because of the provincial reproductive
health code she implemented in her province, its population growth
dropped from 2.39 percent to 1.07 percent.

Dr. Suneeta Mukherjee, country representative of the United Nations
Population Fund
, said having a reproductive health policy in place
would reduce maternal deaths in the country. She said that recent
statistics reveal that 11 mothers die in the Philippines every day due
to pregnancy and childbirth complications.

She said the population growth impacts on everything—health, food,
energy supplies, housing, and environment.

”It’s a question of mathematics,” Mukherjee added, citing that P100
would be better divided among two or three children than among eight



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