MANILA-- Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial said Tuesday her department will respect the Department of Education's (DepEd) decision to turn down the plan to give vulnerable high school students access to condoms in school.
Ubial said that in line with its reproductive health services, the health department will continue distributing condoms through health centers, as agreed with the education department, which has decided to focus on providing students age-appropriate sex education based on the standards set by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Monday made it clear that her department will not be involved in the health department's condom distribution.
Briones explained that DepEd's primary role is to review and strengthen the basic education curriculum, and will thus follow the "UNESCO guidelines on reproductive health, including the requirements of the Constitution and the law". She noted that the department will educate students on the consequences of pre-marital sex but will not distribute condoms, which is the function of health centers.
Ubial said her department will give DepEd the necessary inputs to provide students the age-appropriate sex education for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
The health chief further said that they were not hurt by the decision. "If there is anyone hurt or affected negatively by this decision, it is the young people who were denied access to services," she said.
Meanwhile, health department spokesperson, Dr. Eric Tayag, said they understand DepEd's decision to focus on educating students about HIV as it would be "extremely difficult" for the department to give vulnerable students access to condoms as "this is not yet in place".
He assured that the health centers are ready to serve as access points for condoms but expressed hope that the education department would be able to raise the students' awareness about HIV prevention, with the end in view of protecting those who are at risk of contracting HIV, especially the youth. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency