By : Dr. Jovanni R. Templonuevo
Often we talk of Reproductive Health as primary domain of women – but we forget that there is the word – men – in women.
When we desire to gain an improved quality of life, it will affects others too. Because of the quality of our lives is enhanced, our interaction and relationship with others—our partner, our family and friends, are improved as well.
But with a deeply rising population projected to be 90.4M this year and, if not seriously checked, will clock in at 150M in 2010 by today’s estimates – improved quality of life for majority of Filipinos will still be far beyond reality.
Here in the National Capital Region alone, a family with five members needs to earn at least Ph8,569 monthly in order not to be as poor – but that was in 2006. Today, there was already a 5.4% rise in inflation rate last February and because of this prices of commodities such as food, fuel light, water and basic services continue to increase--- straining the average family income even more.
A well-planned family increases the chance for better living. In same token, based on study by the UP Population Institute and NSO, having more children increases the chances of being poor.
It is in light that more families consider informed choices and improved reproductive health as key factors in quality life enhancement. Enhanced lives for everyone sums up the Millenium Development Goals that will be achieved by 2015.
An effective reproductive health policy that allows women to exercise their reproductive rights, granting them the right to decide on number, timing, and spacing of children, free from coercion and violence is a key component in achieving this.
Already, 500,000 women die each year while giving birth, number that can be greatly reduced by 30% had reproductive health access been granted to them. Where reproductive health access been granted to them. Where reproductive rights are denied, tax system are burdened, productivity is weakened, maternal death, unintended pregnancies, high fertility rates, abandoned children, unsafe abortions, HIV and STIs are dramatically increased.
The Pinoy must realize that this concern for better life quality for himself, his partner and ultimately, his family – is not solely a woman’s responsibility. Reproductive health is indeed a shared responsibility by both partners.
Although most effort of expanding reproductive health focused on women, universal access to reproductive health cannot be achieved without the full cooperation and participation of men. In a 2003 NHDS study, it showed that women’s to family was significantly affected by the partner or husband’s level of support. Also, negative attitudes and wrong information detrimental culture practices of the husband or partner would affect the well–being of the expectant mother and the unborn child. More so, programs which exclude men generally undermine their own effectiveness as men often act as gatekeepers. Men as power-holders affect access of women to RH services and information.
As such, the Pinoy Man must be made to realize and appreciate that culturally, the Philippine view on gender equality has been an intrinsic part of his nature. In fact, the Philippine legend of Malakas and Maganda already attest to the equal roles that both man and woman take in life.--When the bamboo split open in equal halves, at the same time, both man and woman roamed the world freely and equally.
Customarily, the Filipino male has a greater respect for women. This respect can be further inculcated with a deep concern and respect for the rights of women to have protection—from sexual transmitted infections including HIV and rights to have access to information and services such as pre-natal check ups, birthing and post- partum care.
The concept of involving men in reproductive health should be viewed as an active partner in the process – men educated in danger signs of pregnancy, acting the role of an encourager during pre-natal, during delivery and post natal care for their wives and also as father and provider of the family.
As we believe and actively promotes shared responsibility between man and woman regarding reproductive health with special focus on a heightened respect for women’s rights, more male involvement in Reproductive Health will vastly improve the dignity of women and everyone’s quality of life.
Doing all this, the attainment of the Millenium Development Goals in 2015 is already within sight.