Most youths of Palawan have average or “medium” levels of awareness about reproductive health, which they learned either from school or through social media.
This was one of the observations from a survey conducted by the private research organization iOptions Ventures Inc. and local non-government organization Roots of Health (also Ugat ng Kalusugan) among junior and high school students in rural and urban areas of Palawan.
The survey, which involved 9,000 respondents who are junior and senior high school students throughout the province, showed that only 7 to 8 percent have “high” awareness while 19 to 21 percent were considered to have “low” awareness of the subject.
A large segment of the respondents, close to 90 percent, also said they have not experienced sexual intercourse.
However, the survey also showed that nearly half of those who had sexual experience indicated that they never used any form of contraception. Also among them, 9 to 11 percent “rarely” used contraception while 20 to 22 percent “always” used contraception.
The researchers said they hope these findings will prompt policymakers to scale up efforts to popularize reproductive health education in schools and find ways to address the current teen pregnancy crisis.
Data released by the Population Committee had shown Palawan to have the highest teen pregnancy incidence in MIMAROPA in 2019. Teenagers accounted for 13.3% of pregnancies in Puerto Princesa, and 15.3% of pregnancies in the municipalities.
Lian Sing, iOptions Ventures’ Research and Communications Officer, said in a presentation on Friday that they conducted the study purely online from May 23 to 31, in partnership with the local non-government organization Roots of Health.
The respondents were first asked about their sexual history if they used contraception and how often, and where they got their reproductive health education.
The survey indicated that the primary source of reproductive health education was from teachers. Outside of school, teens got their information from social media or the Internet.
“This is interesting because they say that they believe reproductive health education is important, and that they believe that they are getting adequate information, but less than half say that they use contraception. They also believe that reproductive health should have its own subject in schools, and not just integrated into other subjects,” said Sing.
Sing added that they will disseminate their research to education and lawmaking bodies, in the hope that their findings will inform those concerned on how to pass effective measures to address Palawan’s teen pregnancy problem.