Unexpected Pregnancies in the Philippines Expected to Soar Amid the Pandemic

By Gabriel Dayrit, UN SDSN Youth Philippines Volunteer | Published on August 10, 2020 2:00:54 PM

In an article written by Al Jazeera, it is estimated that the number of unplanned pregnancies worldwide will reach 7 million as the coronavirus continues to disrupt global supply chains of contraceptives. As the Philippines imposes strict lockdown protocols, and with limited access to contraception, the country could experience the highest number of births in 2 decades. Taking into account the limited supply of contraceptives, the University of the Philippines Population Institute as well as the United Nations Population Fund predicts that there could be 1.9 million births in 2021 which is more than any other year since 2000.

Aside from the limited number of birth control mechanisms, another issue looming over the reproductive health systems in the country is the lack of available clinics and health care workers. According to the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM), with the quarantine rules in effect, patients are restricted in their mobility in terms of going to and from clinics; and even when they do reach their clinic of choice, the clinic may have limited to no healthcare workers available; clinic hours may have also been shortened. Apart from check-ups, patients now worry about looking for a safe location to give birth. Hospitals are swamped with COVID-19 cases and parents do not want their newborn baby to be exposed.

Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque admits that the country’s reproductive health systems took a big hit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Government health care workers have set up some ways to supply the much-needed family planning services. One way is by setting up telephone hotlines for remote medical consultations. Through the initiative, Family Planning on Wheels, some health workers have also gone door-to-door to provide birth control that would be effective for months.

According to Relief Web International, sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and support should still be integrated into the overall COVID-19 response of the country. Access to these services should be prioritized in order to protect individuals and communities from further infection and wide-spread transmission of cases. Mobilizing health workers in communities for family planning initiatives and communication would also mean preventing overwhelmed healthcare facilities and infection of vulnerable populations. Apart from the importance of proper monitoring through data and research, the organization has also suggested the provision of “SRH commodities and dignity kits” and promotion of “tele-consults” regarding SRH.

Sources:
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/07/philippines-faces-baby-boom-lockdown-hits-family-planning-200714063035071.html
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/29/coronavirus-lockdown-could-lead-to-214000-extra-babies-in-the-philippines
https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/200511_COVID-19%20Philippines%20HRP%20Revision%20Final.pdf

Data Churner:
Nicole Ortiz
Volunteer, Data Churner
UN SDSN Youth Philippines

Graphic by:
Kei Siguenza
Volunteer, Data Presentor
UN SDSN Youth Philippines