United States To Cut Off Supply of Free Contraceptives to Philippines By 2004
The U.S. Agency for International Development will stop supplying free contraceptives to the Philippines by 2004, Agence France-Presse reports. USAID officials said that the agency plans to provide about $3 million worth of contraceptives to the Philippines in 2003 and 2004 before ending the program. USAID has donated approximately $40 million in contraceptives to the Philippines over the past 11 years, and U.S. donations represent more than 80% of the country's total contraceptive supply. The Philippine government has relied heavily on U.S. contraceptive donations for its family planning programs because local legislators "will not allocate government funds for [contraceptives] in fear of the dominant Roman Catholic Church," with which 80% of Filipinos are affiliated. Nearly 40% of the Philippines' 80 million residents live in poverty, and the nation has a population growth rate of 2.36% annually, one of the highest rates in Asia. Some analysts said that halting contraceptive donations could exacerbate the nation's poverty; however, USAID officials said that their studies indicate that about 2.1 million Filipinos who currently receive free contraceptives from the government "could afford to pay for them." The agency said that it will now concentrate on providing technical assistance to private businesses and local and national governments to help educate Filipinos about family planning (Agence France-Presse, 9/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.