Monday, August 6, 2012

Are we truly ready for an RH bill?

Yesterday's episode of Ratsada sa Inquirer (aired every Saturday, 8am-10am, Radio Inquirer 990 khz) saw the likes of Beth Angsioco and Dr. Janet Miglar crossing swords with two young people from YouthPinoy. Of course, the topic is Reproductive Health bill. 

Angsioco and Miglar are veteran women's rights campaigners. They are at the forefront of the struggle for the passage of a Reproductive Health bill. 

The consolidated version of Lagman's and Garin's bills seek the same thing---implement a Reproductive Health policy for women and children. 

Looking at the consolidated bill, the bill is an excellent document which seeks to solve the problem of unwanted pregnancies, maternal deaths and lack of access to pediatric and maternal care. The bill is pro-poor because it gives everyone universal access to these services. 

The only question is---are we ready for such a bill?

Look at the landscape---analyze the situation of each Local Government Unit right now and you'll find that it still lacks the funds to actually dispense full local services. Many LGU's still lack classrooms and not only that, some even lack decent town halls and what have you.

If the bill is passed, the question lies---how will LGU's implement this, if many of them, still lack the proper facilities to even act as a fully functioning LGU?

Where will RH advocates teach RH when the LGU lack classrooms? Where will mothers go to if the LGU even lack hospitals or clinics? 

How about pediatricians and ob gynes---where are they? The law mandates to increase the number of health workers per LGU---where will the DOH find them?

We have waited twenty or so years for this bill, yet, the reality is, the environment is still premature for supporting such a laudable measure.

Reason----lack of funds due to the pervasive poverty of this country.

Address the economic crisis, you address the concerns of maternal deaths and unwarranted pregnancies. Most victims of unwarranted pregnancies among teenagers belong to OFW families. Address the economic crisis, prevent parents from going abroad, and you have a very stable family with parents having time rearing their children.

Maternal deaths are mostly caused by lack of pre-natal care and of course, lack of nutrition of mothers. Address the nutrition problem, you prevent maternal deaths. Of course, it is totally different if the root cause of death is congenital. 

Lastly, how many condoms will the State procure to solve the population problem? GRanting for example, that the state buy 100 million condoms, how many will actually use it?

Besides, we know what happens inside DOH and its procurement process. We all know that it is big business, therefore, corruption is expected to seep into it.

Who will benefit? Will it really be women and poor kids? Or the big condom manufacturers and their lackeys inside government?