Monday, July 21, 2008

World Population Day Celebrated

HAIN participated in the World Population Day week-long celebration from July 7 until July 11, 2008 in the city of Manila entitled “Family Planning: Karapatan Ko, Karapatan mo, Gawing Totoo”. The said event was organized by the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) wherein HAIN is the Chair of the Public Information and Education Committee. RHAN is a coalition of 40 non-government organizations and civic groups advocating for reproductive health and rights. RHAN also leads the campaign for the passage of national legislation on reproductive health (RH) and other issues pertaining to it.

During the week-long celebration, RHAN made the symbolic effort to denounce Executive Order 003 imposed by Manila City former Mayor Lito Atienza in 2000. The city ordinance discouraged the use of contraceptives by his constituents leading to a virtual ban. Atienza also campaigned among the people that artificial methods of family planning are against the law and the pro-life principles of the Catholic Church. For eight years, Manila residents were deprived of artificial family planning commodities, information and services resulting in unplanned pregnancies, marital squabbling and neglected children.

The celebration kicked-off with a 4-day exhibit featuring IEC materials from RHAN and the City Health Office of Manila and a forum on reproductive health at the City College of Manila. Several NGOs, GOs, and the academe especially students participated in the festive activity.

On July 11, Manila held its first family planning fair after Mayor Alfredo Lim lifted Executive Order 003. Around 700 women crowded the Tondo Sports Complex to avail of free contraceptive pills, condoms and reading materials, legal advice on VAW, adolescent reproductive health information, vasectomy and tubal ligation counseling and referrals, IUD and injectables as well as natural family planning method from health, legal and social workers and volunteers of RHAN and the City Health Office of Manila. The residents in poor communities acted on their need at the first opportunity offered them and exercised informed choice and basic right on reproductive health especially family planning during the culminating activity of the World Population day.

A signature campaign in support of the passage of the RH bill was also gathered during the week-long celebration.

RHAN shall therefore intensify its information and education campaign together with the city of Manila officials and residents so as to debunk the notion that artificial methods of family planning are against the law and immoral. RHAN will still continue its effort in helping local government units for the promotion and provision of RH needs and rights.

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