Committee Report 1156 Regarding HB 5043
AN ACT PROVIDING FOR A NATIONAL POLICY ON REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH,
RESPONSIBLE PARENTHOOD AND POPULATION DEVELOPMENT AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Liza Largoza Maza
September 17, 2008
Mr. Speaker, Distinguished Colleagues
I rise to sponsor Committee Report 1156 on House Bill No.
5043, AN ACT PROVIDING FOR A NATIONAL POLICY ON REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH, RESPONSIBLE PARENTHOOD AND POPULATION DEVELOPMENT AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
The right to health, which embraces sexual and reproductive health, is acknowledged in various human rights documents such as Article 12 of the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR )where States Parties recognize “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
It is enshrined in both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which protect the right to life, which includes the right to health.
This is provided for in the Philippine Constitution.
The Beijing Platform for Action adopted by governments during the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 recognizes that women’s right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health is “vital to their life and well-being and their ability to participate in all areas of public and private life.”
The Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women ( CEDAW) mandates states parties to take “appropriate measure to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning.
The UN International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994 adopted a rights-based approach to sexual and reproductive health and recognized that if women are empowered and informed and the people’s basic needs for sexual and reproductive health are met, population growth will be stabilized, not by coercion and control but by virtue of choice and opportunity
The proposed bill sees and advances the right to reproductive health as inextricably linked to human rights. This is framed on the overall pursuit of human rights including the right to health. The measure recognizes and guarantees that the advancement and protection of women’s human rights shall guide the efforts of the state to address reproductive health care. The recognition of the indivisibility and interdependence of reproductive health rights to human rights including the right to development is an initial step toward highlighting the need for comprehensive and accessible people’s health care system of which reproductive health care forms an integral part.
Thus, this measure is in line with the Gabriela Women’s Party’s advocacy to advance a national quality health care service that is comprehensive, available, accessible, acceptable, and democratic of which reproductive health and rights form an integral part.
The reality of the Filipino people shows that even basic primary health care services are inadequate if not lacking at the local and national levels. Seven out of every 10 Filipinos die without medical attention. Only 30 percent of the population has access to essential medicine. The average hospital bill is three times the average monthly income. Expectedly, when even the state primary health care remains dismal, the reproductive health care especially of women is in a more depressing state as it is given lesser priority
by the government and the family. Thus, many women’s and children’s lives are endangered because of deteriorating health services in the country. Likewise, the lives of thousands of pregnant women and their unborn children are at risk because of the lack of pre-natal, peri-natal and post- natal care for women. According to the latest data (CWR, 2008) 10 mothers die daily of pregnancy- and childbirth-related causes, while the Philippines Midterm Progress Report (PMPR) on the MDGs, states that the maternal mortality rate in 2006 is 162 mothers per 100,000 live births. Infant mortality is still high at 21.45 per 1,000 livebirths. The leading causes of maternal mortality in the Philippines are hemorrhage, eclampsia in pregnancy, puerperal sepsis, retained placenta, obstructed labor, prolonged pregnancy, and anemia. The major factors underlying the medical causes are the lack of political commitment and inadequate financial and technical input, and poor quality of care.
With the increasing privatization of public hospitals and the economy in general, health services for the poor are drastically diminished shifting progressively the burden of health care including reproductive health care solely to women. Consequently, the prohibitive costs of health services bear its heavy toll on poor women.
When the family has limited resources to avail of social services especially, health services, women are the last to avail of medical attention, and when there is little food on the table, there is even lesser food for women. In a social set-up, where women remain in subordinate position and where women’s role is located in general to the reproductive sphere, the burden of child bearing, rearing and taking care of the whole family rests on them. As our economy worsens, social services become even more inadequate, expensive and inaccessible. Hence, this measure is necessary as this will give poor women relief especially at this time of economic hardships where no adequate, accessible, affordable and proper social services could be availed of.
The Gabriela Women’s Party believes that the worsening poverty, dwindling resources of the country and inadequate social services are rooted in the continuous subservience of our economic and political policies to the dictates of foreign and local elite interests. The root causes of our economic crisis must be addressed to be able to create an enabling environment for human development and development of healthy individuals and families. In the meantime we see the urgency to pass this measure as this will give relief
especially to poor women at this time when there is little or no viable economic alternatives available to them. The bill pushes the government to provide relief measures that will address people’s immediate reproductive health needs and problems. It directs the government to uphold the right to education of the people and the right to make decisions for themselves in accordance with their religious convictions, cultural beliefs, and the demands of responsible parenthood. It seeks to ensure the universal access to information and education about reproductive health.
The right to health including reproductive health must be upheld, promoted and protected by the state. Hence, we call for the immediate passage of this measure.