Opinion: Family planning pilot project in Philippines is a success story
The Philippines, roughly the size of Arizona, is home to 103 million people – compare that to the entire U.S. population of 313 million. The population of the Philippines is expected to double in size by 2080. Rice is the staple food, while fish provides most of the protein.
The Philippines has one of the highest birth rates in the world and the highest teen pregnancy rate in the Asian Pacific. To feed its people, the Philippines imports more rice than any other country on the planet and its oceans show severe signs of overfishing.
Something had to be done, which is why Philippine President Benigno Aquino late last year signed the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012. To poor women in the Philippines, this means that government health centers will have to make reproductive health education, maternal health care and contraceptives available to everyone. It is a life-saving measure that will help end the cycle of poverty in this Southeast Asia island nation.
In the slums of its capital, Manila, it is not uncommon for women to have 12, 16 or even 22 pregnancies. However, many of the children die from treatable diseases, such as diarrhea. One woman, who had 22 pregnancies and has 17 surviving children, said, “Many times, we sleep without eating.” One of the reasons for enacting the reproductive health law is to help break the cycle of poverty and provide help to a woman and her 10 surviving children, for example, who comb toxic dump sites for a meager $7 a day to live on.
“The Philippines’ combination of high population growth and limited land area, nearly all of which is near the coast, makes the country extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Population growth, climate change and deforestation will only increase the severity of the disasters,” reports Hannah Marqusee in “Life on the Edge: Climate Change and Reproductive Health in the Philippines.”
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