POPCOM to release action plan to address population issues

By Anna Leah Gonzales

June 6, 2023, 7:47 pm

MANILA – The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) will release an action plan that will help address the population issues and challenges in the country.

During the national data dissemination forum on the 2022 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) Final Report on Tuesday, POPCOM executive director Lisa Grace Bersales said the action plan was crafted taking into consideration the results reported in the NDHS.

"Because of the PSA's timely release of the 2022 NDHS results, the commission was able to develop the Philippine Population Development Plan of Action 2023-2028 with timely information. At this time, the information is really very important so that we're able to identify action areas that will address current concerns," Bersales said.

"The plan of action, which we will also disseminate soon, provides a roadmap of coordinated and organized efforts to address remaining and persistent population issues at all levels and to optimize the demographic opportunities that will support the Philippine Development Plan of President (Ferdinand) Marcos (Jr.).”

Based on the NDHS conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the total fertility rate (TFR) among women in reproductive years, or those aged 15 to 49, declined from 2.7 children in 2017 to 1.9 children in 2022.

According to the report, the TFR has declined steadily over time from 4.1 in 1993 to 1.9 last year.

The report, however, also revealed that 5 percent of women aged 15 to 19 have ever been pregnant.

The highest rate of teenage pregnancy was recorded in Northern Mindanao (11 percent) followed by Davao (8 percent) while the lowest rate which was at 2 percent were seen in Ilocos and Bicol.

Bersales said that while a decline was recorded in the rate of teenage pregnancies, "one teenage pregnancy is one too much."

"So that is still a concern," she said, adding that POPCOM is also concerned about the increasing number of teenage pregnancies for 10 to 14 years old.

"These are not teenage[rs], these are children. So that's one which is not in NDHS but I would just like to put that forward."

Bersales also raised about the findings that for unmarried women aged 15 to 49 years old, only 24 percent use modern contraceptives compared to 42 percent married women.

She said these results provide alerts for the government on which population groups need to be prioritized in terms of fertility issues.

"So with all of this information, the Commission on Population Development has already written the Philippine Population and Development Plan of Action for 2023 to 2028 with the objective of optimizing demographic opportunities and addressing remaining population issues and challenges so that we all citizens meet socio-economic dividend and have improved quality of life," she added.

Bersales said POPCOM is proposing eight action areas, which were developed using the information from NDHS and other sources.

These include the continued promotion of family development through responsible parenthood and family planning, working on adolescent health and development, and using lifecycle approaches to human development.

"The other action areas are inclusive development of the marginalized population, the poorer sector, the less educated, the IPs, the persons with disability, those that are in the basic sector. Integration of population in sectoral developments and the role of the commission is really to alert the different sectors in population development or in human capital information of the different nexus in their sector," she said.

Bersales said the action plan will also put focus on the local level.

"In fact, we already have an approved devolution transition plan for a people-centered regional and local development approach," she added. (PNA)