MANILA–If licenses on distribution and sale of many artificial contraceptives expire by 2020 and Supreme Court (SC) maintains its temporary restraining order (TRO) on re-certification of these licenses, condoms can be the last product that can be used for family planning in the country.
Given that scenario, Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Gerard Bayugo, said condoms will not be affected by the TRO imposed by the SC against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in granting Certificates of Product Registration (CPRs) on contraceptive products.
“Condoms are not included in those not being given CPRs because they are apparently considered as equipment or devices and not drug products,” said Bayugo.
Way back June 2015, the High Court issued a TRO prohibiting the FDA from granting and renewing the CPRs of contraceptive products.
Since then, DOH and other health advocates who are pro-RH (Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health) had foreseen the possibility that the country will be running out of available contraceptives by 2020 as all CPRs would have expired by then.
With the condoms that will be left as “choice” or alternative for the possible lack of access to other form of contraceptives that should be made available, the Health official admitted that such would not be enough for the government to pursue its reproductive health (RH) agenda which is provided under the law.
“It is not our principle. It is against what we promised. We wanted to give them (public/couples) choices. It is their decision (to choose), not ours,” he said.
He, however, assured that DOH would be willing to provide more condoms to the public if necessary
“Maybe, if we see that there is an increase in demand, then probably we can respond and buy more if we will be allowed to buy,” said Bayugo.
At present, access to condoms is being done in local health centers nationwide.
With the cheapest pill (Trust Pills sold at Php 43) currently available in the market but may expire by June, couples would be left only with other brands ranging from Php 80 to Php 700.
Lift for TRO is being pushed because lack of access to other available contraceptives can lead to more “unplanned pregnancies” which may result to maternal and infant death, a backward move since it sets limits to the choices of women.
Unplanned pregnancies also limit the chance of empowering women since their chance to perform other productive tasks or earn a living are being hampered. It can also result to added burden for those who are below the poverty line who are already experiencing the difficulty of having a big number of children whose nutritional and other needs cannot be met