08/08/2007, 00.00
PHILIPPINES

Manila promotes natural family planning

Santosh Digal
The government wants to set up small groups tasked with promoting natural family planning methods. More than four million couples are expected to take part in the initiative, including those living in some of the remotest corners of the country. The Catholic Church looks favourably to the initiative.

Manila (AsiaNews) – The government of the Philippines has decided to follow the Catholic Church and promote natural family planning (NFP) methods in the remotest, an initiative the Catholic Church has welcomed. The plan involves the whole country, including some its most far-flung areas.

The plan itself is part of the Family Planning Month initiative launched by the Commission on Population. Its specific objectives are promoting responsible parenting in couples and encouraging men to be responsible partners in maternal health.

Altogether the Commission wants to educate at least 4.2 million couples nationwide between 2007 and 2010. It will organise ten classes per village, involving ten couples per class in some 42,000 villages nationwide.

Responsible parenting classes are expected to mobilise a critical mass of parents as part of what will become a responsible parenting movement. Activities will include after-class coaching and mentoring through home visits.

Rural barangay (village) health workers and other community-based volunteers will recruit married couples to join responsible parenting classes.

In cities mayors will establish urban barangay (district or ward) groups that will include health officials who will train responsible parenting activists.

This way the policy can be a full-blown responsible parenthood movement.

Leo Rama, regional director of the Commission on Population, said that whilst people are familiar with the use of artificial methods like condoms, vasectomy and tubal ligation, they are not much aware of natural family planning methods.

“The core of the plan is the grassroots campaign to bring the programme as close to the people as possible,” he said.

In the programme, villages, towns and cities alike will have their own responsible parenting movement group.

For years the Filipino government has tried to reduce population growth. On several occasions this has led to conflict with the Catholic Church over the right methods to achieve the goal.

This time however state and Church are on the same side. Mgr Pedro C. Quitorio III, spokesperson for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said that the “Church welcomed” the government’s effort.

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