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Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman called on the incoming administration to prioritize reproductive health in the wake of the report of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) that 51% of pregnancies in the Philippines were unintended from 2015 to 2019.

The least expensive mode of helping attain sustainable human development is the full and expeditious implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act or RA No. 10354 according to Lagman, the principal author of the landmark law which was enacted 10 years ago.

Lagman said that “the RH law is a rights-based, health-oriented and development-driven legislation which affords women and couples to freely exercise their inherent right to determine the number and spacing of their children.”

The late Rafael Salas, a foremost Filipino who served as the first executive director of UNFPA for 20 years, underscored that any program on human development must take into account the issue of population.

A study by the New York-based Guttmacher Institute in partnership with Likhaan Center for Women’s Health, a Philippine NGO, showed that “for every peso spent on family planning, around 3 to 100 pesos will be saved for maternal care costs for unintended pregnancies.”

The joint study also concluded that the cost of meeting the need for modern contraception considerably reduces the incidence of unintended and unplanned pregnancies, and saves the government and the economy tremendous amounts otherwise allocated to and spent for pregnancy-related and newborn healthcare services. 

The Department of Health (DOH) is aware of the cost efficiency of investing in reproductive health and family planning. In its National Objectives for Health way back in 2005, it affirmed that “a reduction in the actual number of births reduces the need for obstetrical care, immunization and other maternal and child health interventions.”

The RH law mandates the State to provide reproductive health services and supplies for free to marginalized acceptors. 

Lagman asserted that the budget for RH in its first year of implementation in 2013 at P2.5-Billion has dwindled to P842-Million in 2022, while the budget for mega infrastructure projects, with lesser beneficiaries and longer periods for return of investment, have soared to multi-billion pesos.

To realize the goals of the RH law, it is urgent to provide adequate and consistent funding for its speedy and efficient implementation, Lagman added.