600,000 women to receive ‘Family Planning Implants’
DOH awaiting go signal to implement plan
The Department of Health (DOH) sees Family Planning Implant, a sub-dermal device which inhibits ovulation, as a new way to address the problem of population growth in the country which has breached the 100-million mark.
The contraceptive implant is a toothpick-like tool which is being inserted under the skin of the upper arm to prevent pregnancy.
“Young Family Planning Implant, maliit siya na mukhang toothpick. Sub-dermal lang, ibig sabihin sa ilalim ng balat (The Family Planning Implant is a small, toothpick-like thing. It is sub-dermal, meaning it will be placed under the skin),” DOH Undersecretary Janette Garin said.
The implant prevents pregnancy by preventing ovaries from releasing eggs. It can be effective for up to three years.
“It inhibits ovulation for three years, the eggs will not be released,” she explained in Filipino, adding that a woman will not have her menstrual flow while the implant is inserted.
“For three years it is very effective. But after three years, bumababa ‘yong effect, may risk na mabuntis ka (It’s effectiveness wanes after three years, there is a risk that you’ll get pregnant),” the undersecretary added.
Using the implants however, is not totally new. As stated in the World Health Organization’s Reproductive Health Essential Medicines (RHEM) Resource Portal, these “were introduced more than 25 years ago.”
It started to be used in the Philippine around five years ago, said Garin.
“Actually matagal na ‘yan sa market kaya lang ang problema sosyal siya, mahal siya. Dati kasi ang presyo niya P12,000, between P8,000 to P12,000 (Actually, the implants have been in the market for a long time. But, the problem is, these are expensive),” she said.
“Good thing, because of the political will of the President, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will subsidize the implants until 2016,” she said in Filipino. “The foundation will pay for the implants, DOH will only shoulder P500 for every piece. For example, an implant costs P5, 000, the foundation will pay for the P4,500.”
With this, the implants will be given to women from 15 to 49 years old for free, but those who are below 18 must bring parent’s consent. The implants will not be given to those who are single.
“We have allocated funds for 600,000 women,” she said.
But the DOH has to wait for the Food and Drugs Administration’s (FDA) resolution certifying that the implant is not abortifacient, in compliance to RA 10354 (Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012).
The law states that “the State guarantees universal access to medically-safe, non-abortifacient, effective, legal, affordable, and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices, supplies… as determined by the FDA.”
“We are just waiting for FDA’s resolution to certify that this is not abortifacient,” Garin said.
NOT TOLERATING SEXUAL CONTACT
“We’re not tolerating sexual practices. But then, it’s part of reality. If we keep on saying that there is no sexual contact between teenagers, how can we address the problem? How can we address the problem if we cannot acknowledge the problem?
“In our National Demographic and Health Survey, the bigger portions of the population that the government can not answer for are the teenage mothers. And the percentage of teenage pregnancy is so high,” she added.
Garin explained that there are cases when the young parents, who are not yet allowed to marry, live together but still want to continue studying. There are also those who continue going to school but are seeing each other during weekends.
“It’s (having sex) a part a boy and a girl’s physiological reaction,” she said.
She said the implant will protect them from unwanted pregnancy, adding that a huge population is not a problem if the birth of the members of the population are wanted and the parents are capable of taking care of them.
“At the end, the benefits are not for us alone. It’s for them.”
Meanwhile, she disclosed that the only side effect of the implant is either having headache or pimples within the first few days.