Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order to provide free access to contraceptives for 6 million women in an effort to reduce poverty, the Department of Health Commission on Population announced in a press release Wednesday.
According to the executive order, which was signed on Monday, a national survey found that at least 6 million women in the Philippines lack access to contraceptives, of which 2 million are poor. The order calls for an intensified push to achieve “zero unmet need for modern family planning” for the 2 million poor women by 2018 and the rest thereafter.
Universal access to birth control and sex education is actually part of Duterte’s 10-Point Socio-Economic Agenda. The government aims to cut the poverty rate from 21.6 percent in 2015 to 13 percent or 14 percent by the end of Duterte’s term in 2022, Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia told the media Wednesday, according to news reports.
The country will be “unable to meet our poverty reduction target” unless all Filipinos have access to family planning, Pernia said. But if the campaign is in full effect by 2022, population growth should decrease from its current rate of 1.7 percent to 1.4 percent, according to Juan Antonio Perez, executive director of the Commission on Population.