New Ordinance Grants Filipino Women Greater Access to Reproductive Health Care

Last month in the Philippines we got cause to celebrate: Davao City passed what has come to be known as the Women’s Health Care Clinic Ordinance. Ordinance No. 335-10, which was passed during the City Council’s session on January 12th, mandates that the city appropriate funds for the creation of a Reproductive Health Care Clinic. The Ordinance is a local version of the Reproductive Health Bill which is still pending in the Philippine Congress. The Davao City Ordinance will benefit the city’s growing population of 2 million people.

I am one of the many Filipino women who are anxiously waiting and working for a policy support on Sexual and Reproductive Health. Government services on reproductive health have been limited to maternal and child health. National campaigns on natural family planning have been the priority, but non-governmental organizations continue to bridge the gap by providing services and educating young people, especially young girls and boys who continue to be left out.

The City’s Reproductive Health Network-Davao, where my organization is one of the members, has pioneered advocacy efforts to convey the legislators and cast a yes vote. I was able to experience advocacy in action as I spoke with the legislators about the benefits of the ordinance not just for the women but for the young people who will be the future leaders.

The City Government of Davao signifies its commitment to empower its people to obtain access to quality sexual and reproductive health services. The Ordinance will focus not just focus on women, but will also encourage men to be involved, participate, and take responsibility. Young people will be given information about their reproductive health and rights, sexuality, and can access the services regardless of status, sexual orientation, and ability to pay.

The people of Davao admire and commend the courage of the Honorable Angela Librado-Trinidadm, who has been the major proponent of the Bill, and Madam Lyda Canson, the Chair of the Reproductive Health Network in pushing for the Ordinance.

The new clinic will be required to:

    o Provide information on pre-natal and post natal care, normal spontaneous delivery, caesarean delivery care, and for the newborn;
    o Provide reproductive health and rights education;
    o Provide accurate information, education, and counselling regardless of client’s marital status, sex, and age. Make available a full range of legal and medically safe family planning methods with information that includes benefit and risk of such methods;
    o Develop and implement specific services that promote male involvement, participation, and responsibility in reproductive health as well as other reproductive health concerns of women;
    o Undertake programs for the prevention of abortion and management of post abortion complications;*
    o Develop and undertake reproductive health programs for adolescents including information that will enable them to understand their sexuality and sexual responsibility;
    o Undertake programs and services for the prevention of infertility;
    o Undertake programs and services for the treatment of reproductive tract infections, HIV/AIDS and other STIs, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and other gynecological disorders;
    o Provides education and information on human sexuality, responsible parenthood in schools, workplaces, and communities;
    o Provide information and services addressing the reproductive health needs of marginalized people, older persons, people in the sex industry, differently abled persons, and women in war crisis situation.

For the last 9 years Mel Rose Dingal has been with the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP) where she works with programs geared towards young people. She is also seated as the National Youth Representative to FPOP National Council and Executive Committee as well as to International Planned Parenthood Foundation (IPPF) Regional Council and IPPF ESEAOR Youth Core Group.

*In the Philippines, abortion is only legal when the lives of the mother and the child are at risk. Thus, while the center’s policy on abortion isn’t ideal, it’s an important step for government to acknowledge that there are many unsafe abortions taking place, and that they should provide management of post abortion complication services. We will continue to work for expanded access to safe abortion under the current laws. See the IWHC issue brief Access to Safe Abortion is a Human Right. – ed.



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