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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Population, poverty issues tackled in ARMM

by ED General

The Department of Health in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DOH-ARMM) and the Commission on Population (PopCom) in Region 12 jointly pledged to respond to issues concerning population, reproductive health (RH) and gender in the autonomous region amid arguments on family planning and contraceptives.

In a two-day policy forum and multi-sectoral workshop held in Cotabato City on June 24 and 25, concerns and challenges over unfavorable demographic and socio-economic status of the autonomous region were discussed. Data gathered shows that ARMM depicts rapid population growth, high poverty incidence, high rates on maternal and infant mortality, increasing fertility rate, highest unmet need for family planning, prevalent malnutrition among children and low in literacy as well as life expectancy.

Engr. Edwin Mateo Quijano, regional director of PopCOM 12 said the autonomous region’s poor demographic and socio-economic indicators need an acceptable and feasible policy, program agenda and interventions that could be communally raised and took actions at the regional, national and even international levels.

There is a big challenge to address issues on population, reproductive health and gender. We could not do this alone. That’s why we need interventions from all areas including the sectors on business, academe, women, non-government organizations and local government units to reach the grassroots and educate them,” Quijano said.

The activity themed ‘Setting the Population, Reproductive Health and Gender Policy and Program Agenda in ARMM” is supported by Philippine NGO Council on Population, Health and Welfare, Inc. (PNGOC), Employees Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

DOH-ARMM regional secretary, Dr. Tahir Sulaik, is optimistic that with the progressing indicators resulted from the continuing information dissemination and education in the entire region; there would be an increase, more equitable access and utilization of high-quality, integrated and sustainable basic social services to poor and vulnerable groups by the year 2009.

“With our persistent effort to advocate reproductive health issues and related concerns, we already organized functional community support networks from women, farmers, youths, Ulamas, military and many others. In Maguindanao, we have RH on Wheels, RH in Agriculture, Men in Uniform, Y Factor among BHWs and Health Advocating Ulama. Similar groups are also organized in other provinces of the autonomous region,” Sulaik said.

Moreover, ARMM assistant executive secretary, Samson Gogo, in behalf of Regional Governor Datu Zaldy Uy Ampatuan, assures constituents that programs and mechanisms are being implemented to help individuals and couples in the autonomous region raise their RH concerns and other population and development issues.

“We are hopeful that with the help of our partners from non-government organizations, advocates and policymakers, we can successfully extend basic social services to people. The regional government is in the process of setting a population office that would help and cater each couple to successfully plan their families,” Gogo said.