MANILA, Philippines - More than 100,000 doctors and nurses, and 167,000 midwives rallied behind the reproductive health (RH) bill by signing a manifesto that showed their commitment to protecting the lives of both mother and child.
“While the Philippines seems to be closing in on most of its Millennium Development Goals, it will miss its targets for two most vulnerable groups, mothers and newborns. Each year, an estimated 4000 thousand mothers and 40,000 thousand newborns die, mostly amongst the poor urban and rural communities,” said the healthcare providers, who represent 23 health care professional organizations across the country.
“While we agree that there are other ways to reduce these deaths, we believe that the Reproductive Health Bill can accelerate our progress towards these goals,” they said.
The manifesto signing was led by the Philippine Medical Association. The other signatories were former Department of Health (DOH) Secretaries Dr. Alberto Romualdez and Dr. Esperanza Cabral, former Philippine Medical Association (PMA) President Dr. Santiago del Rosario, Philippine Medical Association (PMA), Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society (POGS), Philippine Society of Newborn Medicine (PSNbM), Integrated Midwives Association of the Philippines (IMAP), etcetera.
The manifesto calls for seven “life-giving” provisions:
1. That the State protect the individual's freedom to decide what family planning method s/he wants to use (whether natural or artificial).
2. That the Bill should have explicit statements against induced abortion.
3. That the State should protect the couple’s right to decide on their ideal family size.
4. That the State should recognize and respect religious rights and convictions of both patients and caregivers.
5. That RH education should include value formation, and be age-appropriate.
6. That the provision for reproductive health services be improved.
7. That guidelines on use of specific contraceptives, including warnings on safety should be left to the discretion of the FDA. This will allow recommendations to evolve as scientific knowledge advances.
Both the House of Representatives and Senate are expected to vote on measure within the week.