MANILA — Essential family planning commodities will be made available in rural health units (RHUs) across the country in the coming weeks, Health Secretary Dr. Francisco Duque III said Thursday.
“The Department of Health (DOH) intends to cascade all the family planning commodities to civil society organizations (CSOs) and local government units,” Duque told reporters during a media briefing held at the department’s media relations unit in Tayuman, Sta. Cruz, Manila.
This is to ensure that women would have access to all family planning products, as mandated in the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law, he added.
Duque said that among those to be distributed to RHUs are 261,000 units of subdermal implants that have been stored in warehouses since June 2015. This was when the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the use of Implanon and Implanon NXT until they are declared as non-abortifacient by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Last Nov. 10, the FDA announced that the two implants and 49 other contraceptives do not cause abortion.
Commission on Population (POPCOM) executive director, Dr. Juan Antonio Perez III, said most of the implants that are in warehouses in Manila are due to expire in September 2018.
“There are others that are due to expire around March 2019. We will be prioritizing, through the DOH, the distribution of the Manila-based implants to the regional offices and to the CSOs so that they can be in the field in the next two weeks. That means the people in the field really have a big job to make sure that 200,000 plus implants are used before they expire in September 2018,” Perez said in an interview.
Meanwhile, the Forum for Family Planning and Development, a non-governmental organization that supports population and development, health, nutrition and family welfare, celebrated the lifting of the TRO on the contraceptive implants.
“The FDA’s positive findings are a welcome development, especially for the millions of Filipinos calling for the lifting of the TRO against contraceptives and the full implementation of the RPRH law,” the group’s president, Benjamin de Leon, said Wednesday.
De Leon said that after two years, the family planning program based on the RPRH Law would finally be carried out.
“With a major barrier to our family planning program removed, we can now assure that every Filipino of reproductive age is provided with the whole range of quality family planning products and services that are effective, medically safe and non-abortifacient,” he added.