This year’s commemoration of the family planning month for the month of August is quite timely and relevant. Mandated to attain the Philippine Population Management Program’s vision of having well-planned, happy, healthy, and empowered Filipino families, the Commission on Population is enjoining all government agencies, local government units, media, and other stakeholders to focus on the message of this year’s theme on the FP Month, “Ang Pamilyang Pilipino: Kapag Planado, Panalo.” ( 2015 Family Planning Month Banner )
One major area of concern on family planning is the existence of unmet need among Filipino Families, most particularly the mothers. As defined by the 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority, unmet need refers to “fecund women who are not using contraception but who wish to postpone the next birth (spacing) or stop childbearing altogether (limiting).”
Women are considered to have an unmet need for spacing if they are: at risk of becoming pregnant, not using contraception, and either do not want to become pregnant within the next two years or are unsure if or when they want to become pregnant; pregnant with a mistimed pregnancy; and/or postpartum amenorrheic for up to two years following a mistimed birth and not using contraception.
Meanwhile, women are considered to have an unmet need for limiting if they are: at risk of becoming pregnant, not using contraception, and want no (more) children; pregnant with an unwanted pregnancy; and are postpartum amenorrheic for up to two years following an unwanted birth and not using contraception.
The 2013 NDHS also reports that in the country, Central Luzon has a total unmet need of 13.1 (6.3 for spacing; 6.8 for limiting). This means for every 100 currently married women aged 15 to 49, there are approximately 13 women who would like to postpone their next birth or stop giving birth but do not have the capacity to do so.
Furthermore, the same study presents the current fertility situation of Filipino women. In Central Luzon, the total fertility rate (number of children born) is 2.8 while the wanted fertility rate is 2. Simply put, the average woman in Region III wants to have two children only but ends up giving birth to almost three.
The Aquino Health Agenda’s Kalusugan Pangkalahatan is envisioned to provide “every Filipino the highest possible quality of health care that is accessible, efficient, equitably distributed, adequately funded, financed, and appropriately used by an informed and empowered public.”
And with the enactment and implementation of Republic Act 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, the Commission on Population enjoins all stakeholders to take part in addressing the concern on unmet need and other family planning-related concerns of our society.
By doing so, we are closer to attaining our vision of having well-planned, happy, healthy, and empowered Filipino families, manifesting the goal of the 2015 Family Planning Month theme: “Ang Pamilyang Pilipino: Kapag Planado, Panalo.”