03 July 2012

The PhP 500M Family Planning Controversy

DOH Condoms
The Department of Health (DOH), an institution charged to improve Filipinos health and well-being and in doing so achieve better health, better care, and better value for al, is catching planning to purchse PhP 500 million worth of contraceptives. The nerve of some people really.

The health agency seeks to address the increasing unmet need for family planning and the growing number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

According to the 2011 Family Health Survey, unmet need for family planning among married women remains high at 19.3 percent, 10.5 percent for birth spacing and 8.8 percent for limiting births

Also, from 209 pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 live births in 1993 (based on the National Demographic Survey), it went up to 221 per 100,000 live births in 2011. This is far from the target of the country to bring MMR down to 52 per 100,000 live births by 2015.

Some religious and pretentious commenters thought it was another disgrace to the country that is also dealing with the growing clamor for the passage of a divorce bill. There was also concern that majority of Filipinos would be upset by the move because – I don't know – they don't like free condoms? But, rest assured, the numbers showed that more Filipinos prefer a proactive health and family planning agenda.

Oh, how you disappointment me my so-called pious friends. I can see how this would be a big deal in the Vatican, what with their Puritanical sensibilities and penchant for affected moral outrage. But in modern Philippines? The land founded as a Spanish colony where everyone's are supposed to be laid back, even when comparing the size of their knives? This is a health agency buying a health product! That's like getting upset at the Department of National Defense (DND) for shopping around for guns and ammunition. Plus, there are already 221 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. I just assumed everyone should do something to reduce this aside from talking on top of a gilded pulpit waiting for contribution and collecting fees.

My theory: This controversy was ginned up so that some religious orders will have a reason to rally additional supporters to their cause and therefore solicit more resources to their already growing coffers.