Department of Health Welcomes Representatives from 11 Asian Nations for 2nd Asian Regional Focal Point Workshop

On behalf of the Philippine government and the Filipino people, the top leadership of the Department of Health (DOH) welcomes attendees of Family Planning 2020’s (FP2020) second Asia Regional Focal Point Workshop, which is being held in Manila from May 8-10.

In her opening remarks on the two-day international workshop, Department of Health Secretary Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial noted that the meetings brings to the table nearly 50 government officials, donor agency representatives, and civil society members from 11 Asian countries to identify and discuss family planning challenges, opportunities, and priorities. The event attendees will share their experiences and expertise to expand access to high quality family planning services, which are directed toward the goal of enabling 120 million additional girls and women to use contraceptives by 2020 as part of the FP2020 partnership.

“This two-day workshop provides us an important opportunity to accelerate the Philippines’ progress toward our FP2020 goals, as this is critical milestone for ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services and rights under the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,”Secretary Ubial added.

FP2020 is a global partnership that links countries with a global community of donors, advocates, and experts who are committed to expanding high-quality, human rights-based family planning programming. It aims to support the rights of women and girls to decide, freely, and for themselves, whether, when, and how many children they want to have. The partnership is an outcome of the landmark 2012 London Summit on Family Planning.

The Regional workshop is attended by delegates from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, and Vietnam, along with representatives from the United Nations Population Fund, the United States Agency for International Development, the UK Department for International Development, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, FP2020 Secretariat, and a range of other technical partners.

The workshop will be followed by a one-day Civil Society Forum, co-hosted by FP2020 and a group of civil society organizations from the Purple Ribbon for RH movement. The Purple Ribbon for RH is a broad network of over 50 civil society groups, government representatives, and individual advocates committed to making the Philippines’ reproductive health program work as envisioned in the Reproductive Health law passed in 2012, especially for the poor and marginalized.

Both meetings will feature a strong emphasis on adopting a rights-based approach to family planning, which means all efforts are driven by the needs and rights of the people the program is meant to serve. Efforts focus on ensuring that individuals are able to make full, free, and informed choices about their reproductive lives, and that they have access to high-quality, respectful health care. This approach strives to give beneficiaries from any community, ethnic group, socio-economic status, marital status, age, or circumstances, equal access to sexual and reproductive health services.

The second Asia Regional Focal Point Workshop is the latest in a series of major working meetings held every 18 months in Asia, Anglophone (English-speaking countries) Africa, and Francophone (French-speaking countries) Africa, where FP2020 government, donor, and civil society focal points develop action plans, consult technical experts, and share knowledge to strengthen country family planning programs.

The Philippine Health Secretary is a member of the FP2020 Reference Group, which is the governing body that provides strategic guidance for the partnership. The Government of the Philippines participated in the London Summit in 2012 and has been represented on the Reference Group since 2016.

Secretary Ubial’s remarks—which were delivered by Undersecretary Herminigildo Valle expressed her optimism on the impact this auspicious event could create in advancing the efforts of the Philippine government and family planning organizations to provide the appropriate reproductive health services that are due to the Filipino people by virtue of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law.

The remarks noted that among the first major policy directives Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte put forward upon assuming leadership of the nation was for the full implementation of this law, specifically in the area of providing family planning services. Executive Order No. 12, which was issued by the President in January 2017 aims to achieve zero unmet need for said services by the year 2022.

In support of this directive, the DOH issued Administrative Order No. 2017-0005, which provided guidelines for all pertinent healthcare providers, detailing specific activities to undertake toward achieving the targeted zero unmet need.