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​CHR launches national inquiry on reproductive health

Graphic: Mother and child, Philippines

Many women continue to face inequality and discrimination in accessing reproductive health information and services, says the Commission.

The Commission on Human Rights, in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and non-government organisations, has launched a national inquiry into reproductive health.

CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit told a news conference that many women continue to face significant inequality and discrimination in accessing reproductive health information and services.

"The Philippines has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the Asia and the Pacific region and is off-track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal 5," she said.

Ms Gomez-Dumpit said the inquiry will seek "to find out whether RH services are being provided by local governments in accordance with the law, particularly the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act."

She noted that several local government areas that do not support the law, citing Manila for issuing Executive Order 00310 on the prohibition of the use and provision of modern contraception by then mayor Joselito Atienza in 2009.

"Also in Sorsogon City, in February 2015, the mayor issued a pro-life resolution. Contraceptives were pulled out from health centers, depriving women of reproductive health services," Ms Gomez-Dumpit said.

Sorsogon City proposed a measure criminalizing the dispensation of family planning commodities. It is still pending in the city council, she added.

The inquiry will seek information from service providers and women in relation to the barriers to both providing and accessing reproductive health services.

The CHR invited the public to submit "documentation of their experiences of being denied access to reproductive health services, or (how they dealt) with barriers to these services."

As part of the national inquiry, public consultations will be held next month: in Metro Manila on April 1 and 2, and April 4; Legazpi City, April 12-14; Zamboanga City, April 19-21; Tacloban City, April 23-25, and Cagayan de Oro, April 27-29.

"These are the localities where there have been reports of problems (in accessing) RH services," the CHR official said.

Date: 2 March 2016

Image credits

  1. Mother and child, Philippines - Din Jiminez, Flickr; http://bit.ly/1SnV6Y0