National policy on prevention of teenage pregnancy pushed

In response to the worrying increase in teenage pregnancies, Reps. Sol Aragones (3rd District, Laguna) and Edcel Lagman (1st District, Albay) filed House Bill 2297 or the "Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Act" which seeks to provide a national policy preventing teenage pregnancies and institutionalize protection for teenage parents.

The bill declares it is the policy of the State to recognize, promote and strengthen the role of adolescents and young people in the overall human and socio-economic development of the country not only in the future but also in the present.

It is also the policy of the State to recognize and promote the responsibility of the State to create and sustain an enabling environment for adolescents to enable them to achieve their development aspirations and potentials as well as mobilize them to positively contribute to the nation's development.

The bill defines adolescents as the population aged 10 to 19 years.

The measure mandates the National Youth Commission (NYC), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Commission on Population (POPCOM), in collaboration with other relevant national agencies and civil society organizations, to develop an evidence-based medium-term National Program of Action for the Prevention of Teenage Pregnancy.

The program of action shall serve as the national framework for inter-agency and inter-sectoral collaboration at all levels to address the various health, cultural, socio-economic, and institutional determinants of teenage pregnancy.

Based on the Program of Action, a National Program on the Prevention of Teenage Pregnancy (NPPTP) shall be developed and formed as a priority program of the Philippine Population Management Program being spearheaded and coordinated by the POPCOM.

All provinces and chartered cities shall organize and operationalize a local Information and Service Delivery Network (ISDN) for Adolescent Health and Development (AHD), consisting of government and non-government organizations, institutions, and facilities catering information and services to adolescents within their locality. Among its tasks and functions are to 1) map and analyze the factors contributing to pregnancies among adolescents at the regional and local levels; 2) identify, harmonize, and implement inter-agency interventions to address the issues related to teenage pregnancies in the region and at the local level; and 3) capacitate ISDN agency-members in collaboration with relevant regional government agencies to ensure quality information and services to adolescents.

Moreover, all education sector agencies shall develop and promote educational standards, modules, and materials to promote comprehensive responsible sexuality education in schools, communities, and other youth institutions. Comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) shall start from Grade 5 and shall include age-appropriate topics such as human sexuality, adolescent reproductive health, gender sensitivity, and life-skills.

The DepEd, Technological Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) shall ensure that all teachers, guidance counselors, instructors, and other school officials entrusted with the duty to educate adolescents on CSE shall be properly trained on adolescent health and development to effectively educate or guide adolescents in dealing with their sexuality-related concerns.

The DSWD, DOH, POPCOM, and local government units (LGUs) shall collaborate to intensify and institutionalize interactive learning methodologies for CSE among out-of-school adolescents in the communities and workplaces, keeping in mind the needs of indigenous, working, persons-with-disabilities, and adolescents in institutions in the design and promotion of CSE.

All concerned government agencies shall optimize social media and other online platforms to reach adolescent netizens with accurate information and messages on adolescent sexual and reproductive health concerns. A web portal for the NPPTP shall be developed by POPCOM to harmonize and link various government websites and online services for ASRH.

A school- or community-based Teen Center for AHD shall be established and operationalized in all municipalities and cities in the country. These centers shall serve as facilities where adolescents and youth can access appropriate information and services on ASRH and other concerns relevant to their holistic development. The centers shall be mainly managed and operated by LGUs through Sangguniang Kabataan members, youth volunteers and workers, and other organized adolescent youth groups with the assistance of adult service providers and youth-serving professionals.

Sexually active adolescents or those who have already engaged in sexual activities shall be allowed to access modern family planning methods with proper counseling by trained service providers in public and private facilities including in the Teen Centers.

Meanwhile, comprehensive social protection services shall be provided to teenage mothers or adolescents who are currently pregnant and their partners. This is to prevent repeat pregnancies and ensure the wellbeing of adolescents while assuming the responsibilities of being young parents. Services shall include, among others, maternal health services, including antenatal check-ups and facility-based delivery; home-based education for teenage mothers; and personal PhilHealth coverage, making mandatory the enrollment and membership of indigent and indigenous teenage mothers.

In their explanatory note, Aragones and Lagman agreed it is disheartening that the incidence of teenage pregnancies in the Philippines is increasing. In 2014, the Philippine Statistics Authority revealed that 24 babies are delivered by teenage mothers every hour. The Certificate of Live Births submitted by the Local Civil Registry Offices from 2011 to 2014 also showed that about one in every 10 women of child-bearing age was a teenager.

They also cited the 2014 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality study which showed that around 14 percent of Filipino girls aged 15 to 19 are either pregnant for the first time or are already mothers— more than twice the recorded rate in 2002. Per the United Nations Population Fund, the Philippines also has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies among the six major economies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and is the only country where the rate is increasing./ Czarina Engracia, News and Documentation Section-Press and Public Affairs Bureau/ House of Representatives of the Philippines.

National policy on prevention of teenage pregnancy pushed National policy on prevention of teenage pregnancy pushed Reviewed by DepEd Click Admin on December 29, 2019 Rating: 5

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