28 February 2010
She may have antagonized the Church for distributing condoms during the Valentine’s Day celebration but Department of Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral’s effort to provide condoms to Filipinos got the support of the labor party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).
The group is in fact urging the DoH now to make the effort of distributing artificial contraceptives not as a PR gimmick but as a permanent program and done on a “large-scale” to enable men and women, especially the poor, to have access to reproductive health services.
“The DoH should provide the Filipino people, especially the poorer sections of the populations, condoms and other artificial contraceptive on a more regular basis through Barangay Health Centers, at the least. And that distribution should go hand in hand with educational discussions on the use of contraceptive in relation to the spread of HIV-AIDS, spacing of children, unwanted pregnancies, teen-aged pregnancies, among others,” said Partido ng Manggagawa secretary general Judy Ann Miranda.
Miranda added that aside from providing contraception, the health department should embark on a nationwide education program in all barangays so that women and men learn the many facets of the usually ignored issues and concerns on HIV-AIDS, teenage pregnancies, unwanted pregnancies, child spacing, family planning, etc.
“The government, through the health department, should address the unmet need for effective contraception amongst women, especially poor women,” said Miranda, explaining that reproductive health is a primary concern of individual women yet her choice has always been challenged by institutions based on moral standards.
Contrary to the Catholic Church’s pronouncements that this is a “moral” issue, Ms Miranda said that, “The distribution of condom to address spread of HIV-AIDS is not a moral issue. It is rather a reproductive health concern that should be practically addressed through widespread education and provision of appropriate social services.”
According to “The Incidence of Induced Abortion in the Philippines: Current Level and Recent Trends” by Fatima Juarez, Josefina Cabigon, Susheeia Singh and Rubina Hussain, published by Guttmacher Institute, New York, 2005 “one of every two married women did not want a child soon or wanted no more children, but were not using a contraceptive method.”
“This only means that women and men would actually want to reduce the number of children but do not have the means to do so. In poorer communities, one condom would amount to a pack of noodles. To countless half-starved families, food would definitely come first than safe sex,” Miranda further explained.
The labor partylist group has been supporting the struggle for the passage of the reproductive health bill which promotes active government role in providing reproductive health care and education among women and men, including the use of artificial contraceptives.