Puerto Princesa City is among the local government units (LGUs) lauded by the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) for initiatives to mitigate teen pregnancies as it underscores the importance of getting the community involved in programs that aim to spread awareness on its risks.

POPCOM chief Juan Antonio Perez III stressed this at a virtual press conference on Wednesday as he hailed the accomplishments of the The Challenge Initiative (TCI).

“[We need] to intensify community participation through comprehensive sexuality education beyond the school by engaging other stakeholders,” said Perez.

The TCI initiative aims to reduce teen pregnancies in the Philippines by developing adolescent-friendly health facilities that encourage positive health-seeking behavior and increase access to family planning services.

The Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health co-manage and support the program, which is administered in collaboration with the POPCOM and the Department of Health (DOH).

When the initiative was launched in 2020, Puerto Princesa City, along with Cagayan de Oro and Dipolog, volunteered to join, and have since reported substantial improvement in strengthening their policies and practices in the execution of the Adolescent and Youth Sexual Reproductive Health (AYSRH) intervention programs.

Perez said City Leadership Teams for AYSRH from the three cities have completed the Training of Trainers course on Leadership for Adolescent and Youth-Friendly Cities (LAYFC) for Barangay Leaders.

After the training, Puerto Princesa City established the Adolescent and Youth Friendly Health Facility and Services, while Dipolog City increased its budget allocation for family planning and AYSRH activities on top of its COVID-19 response.

Cagayan de Oro, on the other hand, strengthened its Information Service Delivery Network (ISDN) and cascaded its AYSRH plan across the different departments and offices in the local government and other partners.

At present, the cities of Baguio, Santiago, San Jose, Biñan, Naga, Tacloban, Iloilo, Tagum, Tacurong, and General Santos are in the process of designing and implementing their own interventions, which will be based on the best practices from other TCI Hubs in other countries.

“With more cities recognizing the urgency to reduce teenage pregnancy, TCI Philippines continues to lay the groundwork for interventions that local governments can implement,” Perez noted.

He said TCI Philippines and POPCOM have conducted advocacy meetings with 90 cities including the 10 new additions.

Baguio City revealed that it plans to build a P380-million youth convergence cen to give premium to the youth as indispensable partners in its AYSRH interventions.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that adolescent birth rates were at 31 per 1,000 girls in 2020, which is lower than 47 per 1,000 based on the 2017 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS).

In 2019, adolescent births (below 18 years old) were at 62,510. It dropped to 56,428 in 2020.

The country baseline target in the Philippine Development Plan by 2022 is 37.

POPCOM, on the other hand, aims to cut down the baseline of 57 per 1,000 as stated in the 2013 NDHS, to 37 per 1,000 by 2022. (PNA)

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