October 3, 2021
The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) noted that Philippines’ population will grow in 2021— at a slower pace though—as the number is projected to reach 110,881,756..
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) latest Census of Population announced the country’s population in 2020 at 109,035,906.
“Despite the rise in absolute numbers, the population grew gradually to 1.31% by the start of 2021,” POPCOM reported.
In comparison over the last decade, Philippines traditionally posted a 2.3% population growth pe
However, this remains to highlight the need to empower women to take control of their health and make their own choices on family planning and contraception in the digital age amidst challenges due COVID-19.
During the World Contraception Day online event last September 23 by the Department of Health (DOH), POPCOM and Bayer Philippines, Inc, POPCOM highlighted the impact of the pandemic on access to contraception and family planning, particularly for adolescents.
“Worldwide, the COVID-19 outbreak has significantly impaired access to and awareness of the far-reaching benefits of contraception. It’s essential that we continue to support self-determined family planning and make contraceptives more accessible to a greater number of Filipinos,”said POPCOM Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez III.
“During this pandemic, our plans for our families, led by mothers who are minors or teenagers, can be easily compromised by this health emergency,” Perez said.
Angel-Michael Evangelista, managing director and Pharmaceuticals head of Bayer Philippines, Inc., said Bayer has intensified its commitment to providing unbiased, accurate, and trusted information about contraceptive methods.
“In 2019, we launched the Ask Mara automated chat via Facebook where you can know more about pregnancy, the pill and other contraceptive methods,” Evangelista said.
“Educating and enabling women, especially adolescents, to make more informed choices on contraception helps improve their quality of life and economic capability. Together with our partners, I’m sure we can contribute to enhancing young women’s knowledge about the different contraceptive choices and importance of family planning.”
Slower population growth in NCR
The foreseen slower population growth is attributable to government’s having stepped up efforts to reverse the adverse effect of the Covid 19 pandemic. Thus, in 2020, Metro Manila registered significant gains for having had among the lowest population growth of only 0.97% in the last five years.
POPCOM reported a favourable development that many Filipino women in Metro Manila (National Capital Region) now opt for smaller families.
It resulted from lower fertility rate, POPCOM disclosed. Sizes of families are trending lower at 4 members, POPCOM reported. That is compared to family size of at least 7 members in previous years.
Supporting women in the Philippines and across Asia Pacific
Recognizing the urgent need for more dedicated work to secure continuity of access to healthcare, Bayer convened an Asia Pacific virtual roundtable last September 24, 2021 titled
#TakeControl: Shaping Digital Health for Women in the COVID Decade.
The virtual event gathered healthcare professionals, policymakers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), telehealth providers, industry associations, and digital influencers and underlined their commitment to support women in taking control of their health.
Comprised of 3 distinct expert panels, the virtual roundtable also marks the 15th anniversary of
World Contraception Day with 15 key partners. Among these are the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Pathfinder International, POPCOM, Indonesia Midwives Association, Taiwan Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology (TAOG), DOC2US, Malaysian Pharmacists Society and Reach52.
The first expert panel “No Woman Left Behind: COVID-19 and Unplanned Pregnancies” drew
attention to the urgent impact of COVID-19 on women’s access to healthcare and family planning resources and the burden of unplanned pregnancies.
“With a third of the country affected, health services for the women of reproductive age have been reduced. One-third of our women have had to take difficult transportation means to get to health services” said Perez.
He also stressed that “the most important problem women experienced in the middle of the pandemic is unplanned pregnancies ranging from teen pregnancies to pregnancies among the general population.”
“Women today in the Philippines are also concerned about violence during the period of pandemic– emotional, physical, sexual violence.”
Movement restrictions (lockdowns) have driven women to go online for more information on healthcare and family planning. However, misconceptions and cultural and social stigma are still challenges within these topics.
The second expert panel “Step Into Her World: Engaging to Empower Online” discussed key drivers of misinformation on family planning and contraception online, the need for credible voices on popular platforms, and the importance of sustained dialogue.
“A lot of women in the Philippines are going online now. I’ve seen a shift in attitude and demand for more doctors to also be online. What’s sad is that many women are online, but not the doctors,” said Dr. Michelle Dado, OBGYN and president of Quezon City Medical Society District IV.
“Education is the only way to encourage healthcare professionals to become more digitally savvy and translate what they do in a face-to-face consultation onto an online platform. This will help to break the endless cycle of misinformation online that may in turn lead to many young women making misinformed contraceptive choices.”
The pandemic has also accelerated healthcare digitization on an unprecedented scale.
Experts on the third concluding panel “The New Phygital: Innovating Expanded Access to Women’s Health” shed light on how technology has been a critical enabler in the recovery and resilience of today’s health systems.
At the conclusion of the virtual roundtable, all 16 panelists collectively pledged to renew their
commitment to empower women to take control of their health and lives despite the pandemic.
They also called for wider public support to join in the pledge and give voice to women’s health needs and empowerment.
Across Asia Pacific, Bayer has been collaborating with governments and organizations to introduce initiatives that promote greater contraception awareness and education.
The partnerships are with the BKKBN in Indonesia, POPCOM in the Philippines, Department of Health’s Bureau of Reproductive Health in Thailand, and the Family Planning and Women’s Union (FPWU) and Government Office of Family Planning (GOPFP) in Vietnam. For more information on contraception awareness and education, please visit https://www.your-life.com.