The country profiles on universal access to sexual and reproductive health services and on the achievement of sexual and reproductive rights were launched through a dissemination forum entitled, “SRHR in the Philippines: 20 years after Cairo” last August 29.
The forum was attended by over 120 participants from multi-sectoral groups — government officials and staff, legislators’ staff from Senate and Congress, RH leaders and personalities, grassroots women and youth organizations, NGOs, RH organizations, women’s organizations, LGBTs, HIV and AIDS organizations, women with disabilities, health professionals, legal practitioners, media practitioners, academics, labor organizations, business, interfaith and secular groups development partners and International NGOs. The policy forum served as a venue where current gaps, issues and steps forward were identified.
Dr. Junice Melgar, Executive Director of Likhaan, presented the background, topic outline, key findings and recommendations of the country reports. Panel of speakers were invited to give their reactions to the reports.
On access to RH, Dr. Paje of DOH shared the DOH Programs to Increase Access to RH Services which includes upgrading of health facilities, trainings for service providers on family planning, safe motherhood, women and child protection, and adolescent health. The DOH also conducts the DOH Health road shows that provide mobile health advocacy and RH services in different areas. Media campaign on RH has already started with a video on family planning that was showed on TV as commercial breaks. Dr. Remonte of PhilHealth shared PhilHealth’s policies on Reproductive Health. There was an increase in the number of indigents enrolled and accredited health care institutions. While there was an increase in the coverage of maternal deliveries, vasectomy, ligation, IUD insertion, cervical cancer screening and Antiretroviral drugs, the utilization of covered family planning services was still low. Efforts are being made to improve its messages to encourage members to access its services. Dr. Remonte also recognized the recommendations in the reports.
On the achievement of Sexual and Reproductive Rights, Atty. Sta. Maria of the Ateneo Law School pointed out the gaps and challenges on the laws on women and its implementation – anti-rape law, anti-violence against women and children, RH Law, anti-sexual harassment. As well as on the discriminatory provision of the revised penal code on abortion and the Constitutional provision on equal protection clause. Atty. Parajas of the Commission on Human Rights shared CHR’s work on SRHR. As Gender Ombud in the Magna Carta for Women, CHR was tasked to investigate complaints under the law. The operational guidelines on violations of sexual and reproductive rights including discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity has already been undertaken. CHR was actively involved in the campaign to revoke the Executive Order on contraception ban in Manila and support for the passage of the RH Bill. Atty. Parajas reiterated CHR’s support in the promotion of SRR.
Dr. Perez of POPCOM walked us through the ICPD UNGASS processes and shared what took place in the ICPD UNGASS meeting last April as well as the Philippine delegation plans for the September UNGASS meeting.
The open forum provided a venue for the participants to clarify the DOH and PhilHealth policies and programs on RH especially for the poor and marginalized groups. The participant from the Filipino Deaf Women’s Health and Crisis Center shared the experiences and discrimination of deaf women on SRHR. Dr. Melgar apologized for not including the SRHR of women with disabilities in the report.
The Policy Dialogue on Universal Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights towards the ICPD Review and Post-2015 Development Agenda was organized by the Federation of Reproductive Health Associations, Malaysia (FRHAM) as part of the Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Center for Women (ARROW)’s initiative with the support of Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) on 3 September 2014, at Holiday Villa, Subang Jaya, Selangor. A total of 51 representatives from government agencies [Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Education (MOE) and National Population and Family Development Board (NPFDB or LPPKN)], Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia (SUHAKAM), universities and non-governmental organizations (All Women’s Action Society (AWAM), Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC), Pengasih, Pertubuhan Advokasi Masyarakat Terpinggir, PT Foundation, Women’s Aid Organization (WAO) and Women’s Centre for Change (WCC)) participated in the policy dialogue. Representatives were also present from the international and regional agencies such as United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA) Malaysia, UNICEF, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) East, South East Asia and Oceania Regional Office and ARROW.
The policy dialogue started with the opening remarks by YBhg Tan Sri Dato’ Napsiah Omar, Chairperson of LPPKN. In her opening remarks, YBhg Tan Sri Dato’ provided an overview of Malaysia’s achievements during the 20-year ICPD PoA. Despite some impressive achievements in the area of sexual and reproductive health (SRH), there were gaps identified, especially in terms of funding allocated in SRH, programme implementation and interventions for the vulnerable population groups, including the young people. In order to increase the political commitment, resources and implementation efforts to create a more equal and more sustainable world and to ensure SRHR for all, she urged all the key agencies and relevant stakeholders to use this policy dialogue as a platform to discuss and formulate recommendations towards the ICPD review and Post-2015 development agenda.
After the opening remarks, the “Malaysian Profile on Universal Access to Sexual and Reproductive Rights” prepared by FRHAM was launched by YBhg Tan Sri Dato’ Napsiah Omar.