2020 census results beginning to reflect RH promotion effort

THE REPRODUCTIVE health (RH)program helped reduce unplanned pregnancies, judging from the results of the latest census, National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said.

“Right now what I can see from the initial data is there is progress in our reproductive health program: total fertility rate is falling, more women are more educated and are better managing their families, and the population growth is also falling,” he said in an online briefing Tuesday.

In its Census of Population and Housing for 2020, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported the population at 109.035 million last year. In 2015, the population was 100.98 million. 

This was equivalent to a 1.63% annual growth rate in the past five years, slower than the 1.72% seen in 2010-2015 and the 1.9% rate in 2000-2010.

Mr. Chua said the census will have to be analyzed further along with other statistics for a more definitive assessment of the RH program.  

Commission on Population and Development  Executive Director Juan Antonio A. Perez III said participation in family planning programs more than doubled to 8.1 million last year from 3.9 million previously. 

Mr. Perez said the commission remains on track to reduce unplanned pregnancies next year. He added that the target is for family planning services to reach 1.5 million women, and to bring down the fertility rate to 2-2.5% by 2022.

“We are hoping that with the inclusion of family planning as part of the country’s recovery program, resources can be put into the program for a more intensified implementation to cover the remaining 1.5 million within the next two years,” he said in an e-mail Tuesday.

“The addition of population and family planning workers by LGUs (local government units) will go a long way in increasing the effort which can be facilitated by the increased budgets for LGUs from the (Supreme Court) Mandanas ruling,” he added.

The government adopted the National Program on Population and Family Planning (NPPFP) in 2019 as a major component of the Republic Act 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law.

It aims to reduce unplanned and unwanted pregnancies by helping families plan the number of children they can support.

With an estimated budget of P10.435 billion between 2020 and 2022, the NPPFP aims to bring down fertility to the replacement rate of 2.1% — the average number of children per woman — by 2022, and increase the modern contraceptive prevalence rate to 65%.

“What is important is we are able to provide basic services to the people, to allow them to be healthy, so that they can finish school and get a good job, and improve the productivity of the country,” Mr. Chua added. — Beatrice M. Laforga