The number of Filipino couples using family planning services increased last year amid the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
This was disclosed by Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) Executive Director Juan Antonio A. Perez III during the local commemoration of this year's World Population Day.
Perez said a total of 8,085,000 men and women obtained modern family planning services in 2020, representing an increase of nearly four percent in the number of family planning users in the country.
The recent online event was led by POPCOM and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)-Philippines to call for uninterrupted services for family planning despite the community quarantines.
During the ceremony, the commission and the UN agency revealed that the ongoing pandemic has critically compromised the protection of sexual and reproductive health rights of women and girls across the world, including the Philippines.
The UNFPA cited a recent study showing that millions of women continue to experience restrictions in accessing family planning services due to the imposition of lockdowns, which have served as a primary tool against the spread of COVID-19.
According to the UNFPA, this situation could lead to a spike in the number of unplanned pregnancies, as well as an upsurge in the number of gender-based violence cases, specifically within the marginalized sector of Philippine society.
This was echoed by POPCOM, which said that reproductive health and family planning services were feared to be severely impaired in certain urban areas. This raised the red flag on their accompanying consequences.
These include the possible rise in the number of unplanned pregnancies, particularly among adolescents; increased maternal mortalities; and gender-based violence.
Despite these uncertainties, POPCOM and UNFPA vowed to implement key strategies that will strengthen policies and programs related to the sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) of women across the country.
" continue to persist in our commitment to empower Filipino women, both young and old, in exercising their full rights and choices in the SRHR by prioritizing their access to essential information and services," Perez said.