HIV/AIDS Advocates in Philippines Call for Passage of Reproductive Health Bill
In hopes of developing a national policy on reproductive health to help curb the spread of HIV in the Philippines, the Girls, Women and HIV/AIDS Network recently called for the passage of a reproductive health bill in the House of Representatives, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reports. During the last general assembly meeting on Oct. 26, GWHAN told lawmakers that it is their "responsibility as pioneers and leaders of the HIV advocacy to register their support for the passage of the reproductive health bill and to stand behind organized groups and networks advocating its immediate passage." The general assembly is expected to continue deliberation of the bill.
The bill would require government hospitals to include contraceptives in the supplies they purchase and make reproductive health education mandatory in schools. It also would require local governments to employ more midwives and health attendants to achieve the ratio of one midwife to 150 deliveries, the Inquirer reports. In addition, the bill would require local governments to have emergency obstetric care and maternal death reviews, as well as to provide mobile health services (Pazzibugan, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 11/12). According to the Philippine Star, the bill also would increase HIV prevention, care and support (Crisostomo, Philippine Star, 11/13).
GWHAN told lawmakers that the country is in need of a national reproductive health policy because of the increasing number of HIV cases. A national policy, according to GWHAN Chair Marlon Lacsamana, would stop people in the country who "demonize" condom use. Fifty-seven new HIV cases were reported in the Philippines in September, bringing the total to 395 new cases this year. Lacsamana in a statement said, "This alarming statistic supports the call for the immediate passage of the reproductive health bill now being deliberated in the House of the Representatives," adding, "Moreover, the widespread disinformation, misinformation and increased efforts to demonize condom use must be disproved with accurate data." According to the Inquirer, the Catholic Church in the Philippines opposes the bill (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 11/12).