Economy · June 22, 2022

Low contraceptive rates urged as weight remains low

The Population and Development Commission (Popcom) will recommend lower tariffs for modern contraceptives as the peso continues to depreciate against the dollar.

Popcom Executive Director and Undersecretary Juan Antonio A. Perez III told BusinessMirror that all of the country’s modern contraceptives come from other countries.

Perez said the depreciation in weight could make contraceptives more expensive for the Philippines. This, he feared, would lead to “insufficient procurement” of these products, which could undermine programs to prevent unwanted, as well as teenage pregnancies.

“All modern artificial contraceptives come from outside the country and the peso-dollar exchange rate, coupled with inflation, could lead to under-contracting of program needs and result in more unwanted and / or unplanned pregnancies,” Perez said. to BusinessMirror.

He added that officials from PopComm, the National Authority for Economic and Development and the Tariff Commission will sit down and discuss “the possibility of expanding the current program to reduce tariffs on contraceptives in the interest of the FP. [family planning] users in the country “.

Based on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) “Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature 2017”, chemical contraceptive preparations, which include contraceptive pills, and sheathed contraceptives, which include condoms, are subject to a fee 3%.

However, under the ASEAN Agreement on Trade in Goods, these contraceptive products have zero tariffs. This means that no duty is charged when importing these products.

Duties, VAT

DATA from the Bureau of Customs last May showed that the reasonable value of these imports reached $ 1.494 million. Using an exchange rate of approximately P52 per dollar, based on BOC calculations, these shipments amounted to P78.148 million.

The total duties and value added tax paid to import these contraceptives amounted to P9.665 million. All these shipments were not charged duties in the Asean-India free trade area, the Asean-China free trade area and the Asean free trade area.

However, two shipments involving Marvelon pills and Mirena IUDs (intrauterine devices) were charged fees worth P234,003.75. Total VAT paid for all shipments, including pills and IUDs, reached £ 9.431 million.

Based on the “2012 Annual Report on Responsible Parenting and Reproductive Health Act” published last year, the decrease in contraceptive use by approximately 1 and 3 percentage points could lead to an additional 47,000-359,000 unintentional pregnancies in 2021 compared to to the basic 2.1 million unwanted pregnancies in 2020.

This will also lead to 11,000 to 84,000 unsafe abortions at the baseline value of 496,000 unsafe abortions and an additional 30 to 200 maternal deaths over the baseline value of 2,300 maternal mortality.

explosion of births

Citing a study conducted by the University of the Philippines Population Institute and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Popcom said the projections showed that around 600,000 Filipino women would not have access to contraceptives available in clinics. and in public health hospitals due to the lockdown.

“This situation could lead to a baby boom where nearly 2 million babies are expected to be born in 2021 due to the additional 250,000 babies caused by movement restrictions across the country,” the report said.

UNFPA’s “State of the World Population 2022 Report”, more than half (51%) of pregnancies in the Philippines are unintentional.

The Philippines ranked 56 out of 150 countries in terms of the annual number of unwanted pregnancies at 71 for every 1,000 women.

However, Perez said that during the blockade, the country was able to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. This is mainly due to the reduction in the number of births.

Perez estimated that the country was able to prevent 200,000 unwanted pregnancies from occurring. He attributed this to the efforts of local government units, particularly health workers who were willing to provide services during the lockdown.