MANILA – The Population Commission (Popcom) on Wednesday reminded couples to be mindful and exercise responsible parenthood as millions are confined in their homes amid the lockdown due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Popcom Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez III issued the reminder given the reality that many pregnancies, especially among teens, happen in times of calamities, as what was recorded in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.
“Every time may crisis situation katulad nung Yolanda, ang situation ngayon mayroon tayong epidemic and magkakaroon ng restriction or nako-confine 'yung mga tao sa bahay, there’s always a finding na tumataas ang reproductive health needs ng population,” Perez said.
(Every time there's a crisis situation like in Yolanda, the situation now is there is an epidemic and we have restrictions and people are confined in their homes, there's always a finding that the reproductive health needs of the population increases.)
“Life goes on lalo na sitwasyon na laging magkasama ang mga couples sa bahay at limited ang activities. We realize na hindi naman maiiwasan na magkaroon ng ganitong activity. We’d like to caution in general all couples to be responsible parents and we’d like to offer them the opportunity na makapagplano pa rin ng pamilya kahit sa panahon na ito,” he said.
(Life goes on especially in a situation where couples are in their homes and the activities they can do are limited. We realize that we can't prevent them from having this kind of activity (intimacy). We’d like to caution in general all couples to be responsible parents and we’d like to offer them the opportunity to plan for their family even at this time.)
He urged parents to act responsibly and care for their family members.
“And also, in their reproductive health capacity din, be responsible parents din,” he said.
A “baby boom” amid the COVID-19 crisis may happen as couples are unable to visit their health centers and avail of regular reproductive health services including contraceptives such as pills, condoms, injectables and the like, according to Perez.
“In a situation na mayroong enhanced community quarantine, we feel na hindi makakalabas 'yung mga kababaihan na nangangailangan ng services para magpunta sa center or sa mga health provider, to get regular health services,” he said.
(In a situation where there is an enhanced community quarantine, we feel like the women who need services can't go to the health centers or health care providers.)
Women who will get pregnant during this period may encounter problems getting their health care need because majority of health personnel today are busy attending coronavirus cases, Perez added.
In the same breath, he discouraged the public from visiting health centers for now due to the virus threat.
He said they instructed barangay health workers and volunteers to conduct house-to-house visits to provide services that people need.
Those on the official list of recipients in every barangay can easily get pills or condoms from their representatives.
Others who are not yet on the list can contact their health centers or check Popcom’s website for its hotline number so they could be briefed about reproductive health kits they need.
Popcom's clinic in Mandaluyong City is open 5 days a week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. People may also call in to request reproductive health information.
Perez said the commission will also include information on the coronavirus in the materials they give out.
Per Popcom estimates, the Philippines has a population of 108 million, according to 2015 projections. The Philippine Statistics Authority placed the growth rate in 2015, the last census, at 1.72 percent. The next census is set for this year.