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PIA Press Release

Feature: finding ways to replace contraceptives

By Rose B. Palacio

Davao City (4 May) -- Faced by dwindling foreign aid, the government has been looking for ways to replace contraceptives - mainstays in the government's family planning program - with cheap alternatives.

We are even looking for methods that don't have to use anything, said Population Commission (POPCOM) XI Director Maduh Damsani.

Already, vasectomy and tubal ligation are among the outpatient services being offered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth). But we are still looking for more alternatives, Director Damsani said.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is withdrawing its aid for contraceptive devices, despite their low utilization rate.

In Southern Mindanao alone, only 48 percent of women in the reproductive age of 15 to 49 years old were using contraceptives. This rate was just a little improvement from 46 percent in 2003.

Popcom admitted that the lack of money or the lack of it was the weak link in the conventional family planning program.

Government agencies concerned is facilitating ways for local government units to establish a partnership with pharmaceutical companies to lower the prices of contraceptives.

Director Damsani called for a more vigorous effort to boost the flow of family planning information drive in far-flung areas through a multi-sectoral partnership.

The natural family planning method, now used by women of reproductive age, is becoming popular and looks promising.

The Family Planning Organization of the Philippines cited the NFP adjunct method called the Standard Days Method using cycle beads is also gaining acceptance among indigenous peoples, Muslims and even among professionals.

The cycle beads strand has a total of 33 beads of red, brown, white and black colors. Each bead represents a part of the women's menstrual cycle.

The red beads marks the first day of menstruation; the whites indicate fertile days of a women; the browns represent the safe days; and the blacks indicate that she is within the 26-32 day cycle range.

Recognized modern AFP methods include ovulation, basal body temperature, sympthotermal, and lactational Amenorrhea method, which DOH claims to be 98 to 99 percent effective. (PIA-XI) [top]

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