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  • Unwanted Pregnancies Is Expected To Reach 2.56 Million In The Philippines

    A study examined the effects of the COVID-19 on Filipino women’s sexual and reproductive health.
    by SmartParenting Staff .
Unwanted Pregnancies Is Expected To Reach 2.56 Million In The Philippines
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  • With the economy in a recession because of a pandemic, times are tough, and it will get tougher when you look at the latest estimation of unwanted pregnancies this year: 2,560,000.

    A study by the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) showed that unintended pregnancies for 2020 may significantly rise because of the disruption in family planning. Access to contraception has become challenging as the national and local health systems are overwhelmed by the necessary response to COVID-19.

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    Without quarantine, there were already an estimated 3,099,000 women (15-49 years of age) with an unmet need for family planning. That number may increase by another 2,070,000 by the end of 2020, a 67% increase from 2019.

    That brings the total to 5.16 million Filipino women of reproductive age with an unmet need for contraception. Consequently, the total unintended pregnancies in 2020 may reach 2.56 million, 751,000 more than last year (42% increase).

    A mother who recently gave birth in Mahal na Virgen Maria Sto. Rosario District Hospital, Batangas, receives a UNFPA maternity kit, which contains blankets, napkins, and other supplies they may need for postpartum and neonatal care.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of UNFPA
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    The Philippines showed one of the highest rates of adolescent fertility in Asia before COVID-19, described as a “national social emergency” last year. The year 2020 may end up seeing 18,000 more Filipino teenage girls getting pregnant because of the indirect effects of COVID-19, compared to 2019.

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    The UPPI study examined the effects of the COVID-19 on Filipino women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health, and freedom from violence. The preliminary results indicate that the pre-existing underlying vulnerabilities of women and girls are worsening because of the pandemic’s indirect effects.

    Take maternal deaths as an example. Even before COVID-19, the Philippines already saw about 2,600 women dying every year due to complications from pregnancy or childbirth. Now, maternal mortality cases in 2020 can increase to 3,270, representing almost 670 additional deaths from the 2019 level (26 % increase).

    Why? Service disruption, difficulty commuting, and fear of contracting COVID-19, among others, pose challenges for pregnant women to get proper maternal care.

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    UNFPA representative meets with the chief of Ob-Gyn and head of WCPU from Batangas Medical Center where UNFPA provided emergency maternity tent facility, WCPU tent and COVID-19 triaging tent to make their services more accessible to mothers, women, young people, and COVID-19 patients.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of UNFPA

    “Particularly in low-income and middle-income countries whose health systems are weaker, millions of women may be indirectly affected by the pandemic,” says Prof. Ma. Paz Marquez, Team Leader, UPPI Research Team on SRH/GBV Estimates.

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    “The challenge is for both the government and private sector to find innovative ways to ensure the continuity of essential sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services for women of reproductive ages, such as family planning and maternal health services and social and protective networks even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Prof. Marquez underscores.

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    Intimate partner violence is also expected to increase because, for instance, women and girls are more likely to be stuck with the abusers at home. Although many of such gender-based violence cases will be unreported, the study estimates a 20% increase in intimate partner violence, physical or sexual, in 2020 from 2019. 

    These preliminary results of the study were shared during the in-country launch of UNFPA’s global State of World Population Report (SWOP) 2020 and the commemoration of the 2020 World Population Day with the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM).

     “The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted access to life-saving sexual and reproductive health services in the Philippines. What it has shown is the deterioration of pre-existing inequalities for women and girls. Sexual and reproductive health and rights and freedom from violence are significant public health issues. Urgent and sustained attention and investment are imminent,” says Iori Kato, UNFPA Country Representative in the Philippines.

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    UNFPA Philippines is appealing for US$11 million or Php541 million of additional funding as part of the UN Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19, to assist the efforts of the national and local governments and NGOs to respond to the pandemic and “build back better,” leaving no one behind.

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