MANILA-- The health department will help the Department of Education (DepEd) roll out an age-appropriate reproductive health education in the coming school year.
Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial said Tuesday her department fully supports DepEd's decision to develop a reproductive health education for public schools that would also raise awareness of HIV, which is increasingly affecting the youth.
Ubial said sex education is an essential component of the health department's comprehensive HIV prevention program that focuses on abstinence, use of condoms, early HIV testing, peer counseling, antiretroviral treatment and ending stigmatization and discrimination.
She said they fully respect DepEd's decision to turn down the plan to give vulnerable high school students access to condoms in school.
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 guidelines on reproductive health set by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
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 that while they believe that improving access to condoms is critical in reversing current HIV trends, their proposal to involve schools in distributing condoms is no longer a primary consideration.
She also agreed that DepEd needs to focus on educating students on HIV prevention.
"The Department of Health, for its part, will work with other partners to ensure information (dissemination on HIV) is linked to service provision, including but not limited to condom access," she said, referring to its partner civil society organizations and the National Youth Commission. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency