The Philippines is a largely rural country comprising more than 7,000 islands, 11 of which are home to the majority of the nation’s 88 million people. Geographic barriers impede access to health clinics and hospitals, and in addition to lack of awareness of reproductive health services, the Catholic Church, an influential body in the Philippines, strongly opposes family planning initiatives despite demand for modern contraception.
EngenderHealth’s work in the Philippines focused on the PRISM project, funded by USAID, which strengthened maternal and child health care services, including expanded access to family planning as well as postabortion care. The project was involved with:
- Modernizing operating rooms and ensuring a proper stock of equipment and supplies through improved management;
- Training medical students in the use of minilaparotomy female sterilization techniques;
- Training medical staff in infection prevention practices, family planning counseling, and the use of COPE® to ensure the quality of services;
- Introducing seven brands of hormonal contraceptives into the private commercial market, leading to more affordable and competitive prices;
- Establishing partnerships with professional organizations, business associations, and pharmaceutical companies to increase availability of family planning;
- Developing a quality assurance system that includes licensing of midwives’ birthing homes;
- Establishing a continuing professional education training system to update heath care professionals in the latest family planning technology.
Increasing Access to Postabortion Care Services
In the Philippines, where 83 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, abortion is illegal in all cases except to save a woman's life. Yet approximately 400,000 Filipino women have induced abortions each year, and almost 100,000 are hospitalized as a result of serious complications. To ensure that women have access to postabortion care, EngenderHealth trained doctors and midwives to provide comprehensive postabortion care services, including counseling, referral, and infection prevention. We also advocated for the integration of postabortion care into routine maternal care services.