Friday, September 23, 2016

Albay execs vow full implementation of Reproductive Health program
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 22,(PNA)-–Local officials in Albay vowed to fully implement the Reproductive Health (RH) Law by allocating funds to ensure all RH services are available and accessible to the public despite a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court on certain provisions of the law.

The TRO covers the distribution and administration of Implanon and Implanon NXT and similar contraceptives until they have been determined to be safe.

Herbert Borja, vice mayor of Polangui town, earlier confirmed they have passed an ordinance creating the Municipal Interagency Council with funds provided for it so that all RH-related services are implemented.

He said implementation of these services will help reduce maternal and child mortality, teenage pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV infections.

Borja said despite the TRO issued by the high court, the entire provision of the law will not be affected.

“The TRO barred the Department of Health from acquiring and distributing the contraceptive products Implanon and Implanon NXT to the public,” he said.

Borja said the local government unit must respond to the needs of its constituents in providing RH services that are not limited to family planning issues.

He said Polangui has already adapted the provincial ordinance that was approved when he was a board member.

Borja said this was the provincial ordinance which received help from the Advocacy Team headed by the Forum for Family Planning and Development being supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Camalig town mayor Maria Ardhail Baldo has endorsed to the Sangguniang Bayan (municipal legislative body) the local RH ordinance and said the budget to be allotted for RH services will be included in the 2018 annual budget.

She said the existing budget of the health sector from the gender and development fund will be used to implement the RH program “because our annual budget for 2017 has been completed and finalized.”

Baldo expressed concern about reducing teenage pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and increasing the acceptance for family planning using modern or natural methods.

Tiwi mayor Jaime Villanueva, a long time advocate of RH services in Albay, has committed to certify as urgent the enactment of a municipal RH ordinance.

In Tabaco City, councilor Sheina Onrubia said the committee on health will possibly review the Gender and Development (GAD) Code so that RH services are integrated with specific programs and projects.

She said Tabaco City has no problem in implementing the RH law as Mayor Krisel Lagman was one of the prime movers of the law when she was representative of Albay’s first district.

“She is strongly committed to achieve all indicators in the sustainable development goals,” Onrubia said.

Onrubia is set to sponsor passage of the local RH ordinance, including creation of a local RH council to act as a recommending body and assist the local government in developing health programs.

“The TRO is only on the implementation or provision of implanon service but other elements (of the RH law) must be provided,” she said.

Onrubia said the local government of Tabaco City has been conducting a series of information and education activities on family planning.

One of these is “Usapang Buntis” (discussions on pregnancy) that is held among pregnant women in every barangay (village) where the topics being discussed include maternal and child health, responsible parenting and regular health check ups.(PNA) FPV/GVR/MDR/CBD