An Ounce of Pre­ven­tion

Palawan News - - OPINION -

One of my re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as Di­rec­tor of Roots of Health is to raise the funds we need in or­der to carry out our pro­grams and ser­vices. As you can prob­a­bly imag­ine, con­tra­cep­tion is a hard sell for many peo­ple. Per­haps be­cause the topic of sex is so taboo, peo­ple don’t like to think about pay­ing for any­thing re­lated to it. I’ve heard Filipinos and Amer­i­cans alike say that they don’t want their taxes to go to­wards some­one else’s con­doms. But con­sider this. In 2015 Phil­health* paid out P394 mil­lion ($7.39 mil­lion) on post-abor­tion care and P13.5 mil­lion ($253,000) on fam­ily plan­ning. In other words, for every P100 spent on post-abor­tion care, only P3 was spent on con­tra­cep­tion which could have pre­vented those abor­tions from hap­pen­ing in the first place. The same data shows that the gov­ern­ment spent an­other P2 bil­lion ($36.9 mil­lion) in fees for Ce­sarean-sec­tion births of women and girls with un­in­tended preg­nan­cies. Imag­ine if in­stead of pay­ing for post-abor­tion care and sur­gi­cal de­liv­er­ies for women and girls who should not have had and did not want more preg­nan­cies, the gov­ern­ment had in­stead en­sured that all women and girls had free ac­cess to con­tra­cep­tion and could there­fore make their own de­ci­sions. Ben­jamin Franklin fa­mously said, “an ounce of pre­ven­tion is worth a pound of cure”. I can’t think of a bet­ter ex­am­ple than with the pro­vi­sion of con­tra­cep­tion. At the mo­ment, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and the Se­nate of the Philip­pines are fi­nal­iz­ing the Depart­ment of Health (DOH) bud­get for 2019. Noth­ing is set in stone yet, but based on the pre­vi­ous hear­ings, it seems that the DOH bud­get is go­ing to be cut from about P107 bil­lion in 2018 to P74 bil­lion in 2019. The only con­tra­cep­tives ear­marked for fund­ing are pro­gestin only pills (P21 mil­lion) and im­plants (P120 mil­lion). There is no fund­ing al­lo­cated for the in­jectable DMPA (one of the most pop­u­lar forms of con­tra­cep­tion) or for the more pop­u­lar form of pills, which have a com­bi­na­tion of pro­gestin and es­tro­gen. There is also no bud­get for con­doms. This de­spite the Philip­pines hav­ing one of the fastest grow­ing rates of new cases of HIV in the world. We’ve also heard that the Na­tional AIDS Coun­cil bud­get will be se­verely re­duced with nearly all the money al­lo­cated for An­tiretro­vi­ral Ther­apy (ARTs) – treat­ment for peo­ple who al­ready have HIV. There is no fund­ing pro­posed for com­mu­ni­ca­tion cam­paigns or con­doms to stop the fur­ther spread of in­fec­tion. You may be shak­ing your head and ask­ing why the gov­ern­ment is let­ting this hap­pen. Pres­i­dent Duterte has been vo­cal about sup­port­ing re­pro­duc­tive health (RH), but has done lit­tle to en­sure the full

The same data shows that the gov­ern­ment spent an­other P2 bil­lion ($36.9 mil­lion) in fees for Ce­sarean-sec­tion births of women and girls with un­in­tended preg­nan­cies.

im­ple­men­ta­tion of the RHLaw. The cur­rent Sec­re­tary of Health Duque didn’t sup­port RH when he was Sec­re­tary of Health un­der Pres­i­dent Glo­ria Ma­ca­pa­gal Ar­royo (GMA). The new lead­er­ship of the Supreme Court is anti-RH. Se­nate Pres­i­dent Tito Sotto has been one of the most pow­er­ful and vo­cal anti-RH voices for years. And the new Speaker of the House, for­mer Pres­i­dent GMA, is so anti-RH that poli­cies un­der her decade of rule led to the ma­ter­nal mor­tal­ity rate and teen preg­nancy rate sky­rock­et­ing. So, with lead­ers like these, I guess it is no sur­prise that bud­get al­lo­ca­tions for re­pro­duc­tive health will suf­fer. If you care about women and girls and re­pro­duc­tive health and rights, or if you care sim­ply about mak­ing de­ci­sions based on eco­nomic sense, I hope you will join me in call­ing for our lead­ers to re­con­sider these bud­get al­lo­ca­tions and in­clude more money for con­tra­cep­tives. Call, text, tweet, tag, email. Let them know that this is not ok. In­vest­ing in re­pro­duc­tive health makes eco­nomic sense and has the added ben­e­fit of boost­ing the health of our na­tion. *The Philip­pine Health In­sur­ance Cor­po­ra­tion (Phil­Health) the gov­ern­ment-owned and con­trolled cor­po­ra­tion at­tached to the Depart­ment of Health tasked with im­ple­ment­ing uni­ver­sal health cov­er­age in the Philip­pines.

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