March 18, 2016
Students from Ifugao State University (IFSU) and members of community organizations in Ifugao urged local candidates to take all necessary efforts to address worsening reproductive health (RH) situation among the youth in the province—increasing teenage pregnancies and HIV.
The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) hosted the forum in IFSU on March 15 between a crowd of about 450 IFSU students and members of community organizations and local candidates James Tayaban, candidate for District 1 board member; Jose Bowana, candidate for District 2 board member; Tom Guinomon, candidate for Lamut councilor; and Mariano Buyagawan, candidate for mayor of Lamut.
PLCPD’s local advocacy manager Rio Magpayo encouraged the students to support candidates who champion reproductive health amidst the recent 1 billion cut on family planning services in the national budget for 2016.
Provincial Population and Sustainable Development/Ifugao Youth Development Division (PPSD/IYDD) representative Mr. Arnel Taguinay presented reproductive health related problems in Ifugao, emphasizing the increasing number of teenage pregnancies among others.
Ifugao has seen a steady improvement in all of its goals related to RH—such as decline in maternal and infant deaths and increase in skilled birth attendance and facility-based deliveries—except in one area: adolescent sexual and reproductive health. In 2015, the province reported 515 adolescent pregnancies, the highest number recorded in Ifugao so far.
Strengthening health systems, capacitating health workers
Incumbent Lamut Mayor Mariano Buyagawan emphasized the role of health boards and the importance of health stations per barangay to uphold reproductive health of the people. He also shared that strengthening the municipal health board of Lamut has been one of his major programs.
District 2 Board Member aspirant Jose Bogwana said that he believed in giving incentives to health workers to improve their services to contribute to the implementation of RH programs in the province.
However, Incumbent Mayor Buyagawan emphasized the importance of capacitating health workers with the right skills and knowledge to duly do their jobs.
Education, awareness raising, empowering the youth through various community and socio-civic activities, and involving parents and communities were among the recommendations of the candidates to curb the increasing teenage pregnancies in the province.
Lamut aspiring councilor Tom Guinomon said strengthening young people’s values will turn them away from engaging in risky sexual behavior.
Education is the answer to the increasing teenage pregnancy according to James Tayaban, District 1 board member aspirant, encouraging the students in the crowd to focus on education and their future.
Bogawana encouraged the youth to engage in different government led activities, and attend sports, spiritual and entrepreneurship training, and other similar activities. He also believes that the involvement of parents and communities will help in addressing reproductive health issues including teenage pregnancy.