PH fertility rate drops despite population growth: NEDA

MANILA While the Filipino population continues to grow, the total fertility rate nationwide has dropped to 2.7 children per woman, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director general Ernesto Pernia said on Thursday.

In a conference on World Population Day in Quezon City, Pernia said such significant progress in population management can be attributed to the continuous efforts of the government to promote family planning programs, 25 years after the Philippines took part of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).

The ICPD in Cairo, Egypt has set a Programme of Action signed by 179 countries, embarking on a long and difficult journey to reproductive health, including voluntary family planning and safe pregnancy, women empowerment and gender equality.

Our population has surpassed the 100 million mark, in fact, there are 100.9 million Filipinos in 2015, according to the census of population. We will be close to 110 million by the end of 2019, our global rank in the most populated countries, moved up a notch from 14th to 13th, he said, adding that Filipinos only make up 1.4 percent of the total world population this year.

Citing that more women in rural areas are using contraceptives now, Pernia said the country's total fertility rate from 4.1 children per woman of reproductive age average in 1993 has dropped to 2.7 children per woman in 2017.

Our target is 2.1 children per woman of fertility rate average and this is achievable if we can promote more the use of modern contraceptives, he added.

Through proper education, Pernia reported that the practice of modern family planning methods has been slowly progressing.

From 25 percent in 1993, more Filipino women use modern family planning methods, and their number has increased to 40 percent in 2017, he said.

Pernia, referring to the World Economic Forum Global Report, said the Philippines remains one of the most gender-friendly economies in Asia.

We're now 8th among 149 countries in terms of successfully closing the gender gap. This is something we can be proud of, but I think the country still needs to address sexual and reproductive health rights including gender-based violence, he added.

To properly address the increasing cases of teenage pregnancies, Pernia suggested the youth must be given more focus when it comes to reproductive health education.

Women aged 15 to 19 became pregnant with their first child have increased from 6.5 percent since 1993 to 8.6 percent in 2017. In terms of reduction of teenage pregnancies, we really haven't moved much, he said.

Many policies have been set in place since the Duterte administration began three years ago and we will continue to champion policies, programs, and projects that will empower and lift the lives of Filipinos out of poverty, he added.

The Philippines, led by Pernia, will renew its commitment to fulfilling its promise of the ICPD Agenda at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25: Accelerating the Promise on November 12 to 14 in Nairobi, Kenya.

It is a high-level conference organized to finish the unfinished agenda of the full implementation of ICPD Agenda Programme of Action as an integral way for sustainable development, said Iori Kato, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) representative in the Philippines.

UNFPA congratulates the Philippine government in its achievements and commitment to fulfill the ICPD Agenda promise, Kato added. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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