POPCOM sees family planning education, more options as vital to counter unplanned pregnancies during pandemic

September 12, 2020

The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) recently launched its new Facebook live series aimed at reaching out to more Filipinos and communicate the importance of family planning during the current crisis.

Entitled “Usap Tayo sa Family Planning,” the show features Usec. Juan Antonio Perez III, POPCOM Executive Director and called “Doc Jeepy”.

“During this pandemic, it is still very difficult to go to the barangays for a face to face discussion and talk about family planning,” said Usec. Perez. “We realize the need to be more creative in tapping other channels such as social media so that we can inform more Filipinos on family planning and health to uplift their well-being.”

In support of POPCOM’s thrust on family planning education, Bayer has partnered with the government organization through its own platform, Ask Mara PH. Ask Mara is a social media channel that provides awareness on different contraceptive options for modern Filipino women. Since its launch in October 2019, Ask Mara PH has been an instrumental sdsyytool in sharing such relevant information. Anyone with internet connection can easily access Ask Mara through its Facebook page and even get questions answered instantly through the chatbot feature in Messenger.

For many decades, Bayer has dedicated itself to providing reliable family planning to women throughout the world, and thus reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies. Part of this approach involves providing education on contraceptive methods and principles. The company is involved in numerous educational initiatives to provide consumers with information, including World Contraception Day and the associated “Your Life” campaign. “Your Life” is aimed at 13- to 25-year-olds and is supported by a host of non-profit organizations. It is also part of the commitments listed under the UN movement “Every Women Every Child” (EWEC). Together with its partners, Bayer launched the annual highlight of the campaign, World Contraception Day, in 2007, which is celebrated around the world on September 26 every year.

“While educating Filipinos on family planning, we highlight the different contraceptive options available that would suit their needs,” added Usec. Perez. “This includes the contraceptive pill, which has been around for 60 years to support women’s health.”

Almost six decades ago, the first contraceptive pill enabled women to gain control over their own bodies at a previously unprecedented level. For the first time, they were able to prevent pregnancy by taking a hormonal preparation. This revolutionary method of family planning became a turning-point for society and a key driver of emancipation. The UN estimates that today 151 million women all over the world aged between 15 and 49 use the pill as their contraceptive method of choice.

“The pill was the first time that women had been able to take control of major life decisions, especially family planning,” said Dr. May Pagunsan, Country Medical Director for Bayer Philippines.

From a 2018 published report on abortion worldwide entitled “Uneven Progress and Unequal Access,” there were around 99 million unplanned pregnancies between 2010 and 2014, over half of which (56 percent) ended in abortion. In another study which tracked unintended pregnancy and its outcomes from 1990 to 2014, experts estimate that around 44 percent of all pregnancies are unplanned; this rises by 20 percentage points in developing economic countries compared to developed countries (65 percent compared to 45 percent). 

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), there are 214,000 unplanned pregnancies projected this year. For 2021, the number of unplanned pregnancies will increase to 740,000 unplanned pregnancies, almost a 50% increase. Moreover, three out of every 10 pregnancies are unplanned or unintended, based on a Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) survey. The UNFPA also reported that even if some 214 million women worldwide want to avoid pregnancy, they risk getting pregnant. This is due to lack of access to family planning methods or absence of support from partners and communities. Similarly, the National Demographic and Health Survey shows that 9% women aged 15-19 have begun childbearing and 17% of women aged 15-49 want to practice family planning but do not have access to said methods. This hinders women to reach their full potential to contribute more for themselves and their families.

“Numbers of unplanned pregnancies are still high here in the Philippines,” added Dr. Pagunsan. “Bayer is seeking to change this by providing a broad range of different contraceptive products and methods, strengthening and supporting women in the life decisions they take.”

In addition to its educational activities, Bayer continues to invest in multi-stakeholder aid programs and has set a new goal to provide 100 million women in low- and middle-income countries with access to modern contraception methods by 2030.

“Ultimately, one of our objectives at POPCOM is to reduce the level of poverty in the country by engaging with women and men so that more Filipino families to take control of their health and capability to support children,” said Usec. Perez. “If there are more family planning options that are affordable, acceptable and accessible, it will be easier for families to manage what they can and enhance their standard of living.” End

About Bayer

Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the life science fields of health care and nutrition. Its products and services are designed to benefit people by supporting efforts to overcome the major challenges presented by a growing and aging global population. At the same time, the Group aims to increase its earning power and create value through innovation and growth. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development, and the Bayer brand stands for trust, reliability and quality throughout the world. In fiscal 2019, the Group employed around 104,000 people and had sales of 43.5 billion euros. Capital expenditures amounted to 2.9 billion euros, R&D expenses to 5.3 billion euros. For more information, go to http://www.bayer.com.

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