Thursday, October 13, 2011

Marine Life and Reproductive Health

October 11, 2011, A Press Conference was held at Sulo Riviera Hotel for the immediate voting and passage of the Reproductive Health Bill with the theme “ Sampung Taon na, pagbotohan na!.” And was organized by the Philippine Legislators Commission and Population Development Incorporated (PLCPD). Speakers are from different field and staunch supporters of the bill but speech from the environmental sector strikes me most. As we all know, the more the population, the more supplies of food that we need which is never or seldom mentioned for every RH debate.

Dr. Enrique Hernandez of Path Foundation Philippines complete speech are as follow: "The Philippines is recognized as the center of marine diversity and it’s coastal and marine resources are an important economic resource and food source, especially of protein. Yet, less tan 4 percent of the Philippine Coral reefs are in excellent condition and fisheries resources are overexploited. One reason for the decline in fisheries and degradation of coastal habitats is increased pressure on the resources for income, food and habitat. Sixty-two percent of Filipinos reside in coastal areas where population density is much higher than the national average in which already surpasses the average growth rate for the world as a whole. To keep pace with the current rate of population growth, it was estimated in 2002 hat fish stock must increase by 30 percent by 2010, a tall order given the overstressed state of the Philippine marine- coastal ecosystems. Human population density and growth drive unsustainable patterns of marine resource extraction that in turn undermine the biological diversity and productivity of coastal ecosystems and habitats.

From 2001 to 2007, PFPI conducted a study using a population-environment approach to address both rapid population growth and marine resource decline in an integrated manner. A quasi- experimental design was used to test the hypothesis that there will be a significant improvement in both coastal resource management (CRM) and Reproductive Health (RH) outcomes by delivering integrated services as compared to delivering either independently. The interventions were tested in three island municipalities of Palawan: CRM in Cuyo, RH in Busuanga, and the integrated CRM+RH in Culion. Pre- project and post- project biophysical and community household surveys were conducted.

Results indicate that the integrated CRM+RH intervention generated higher impacts on human ecosystem health outcomes compared to the independent CRM and RH interventions. The improvements in the conditions of the coastal resources are the effects of protective management by the peoples’ organizations who collaborated in the study. The same organizations managed RH activities that enabled contraceptive access and a significant decrease in the average number of children born to women in the study area. Other trends show a significant reduction in income-poverty among young adults. Given that poor individuals and households are more vulnerable to the impacts of Climate Change, the income- poverty outcome provides added value also in terms of the community’s ability to cope with future environment and climate change.

While RH interventions are likely to play only a limited role in the rehabilitation of Philippine marine resources, nevertheless it will be difficult to sustain CRM gains without simultaneous efforts to address population factors and related gender inequity issues, particularly the high rate of unintended pregnancy among women and teens and their lack of access to contraceptives services. This is particularly true in biodiversity rich coastal areas, such as those bordering marine protected areas, where communities lack access to RH services and unmet need for family planning is high due to either geographic remoteness or political and social opposition or some combination of both factors. By demonstrating the improved outcomes that result from delivering RH services integrated with marine conservation interventions, this study argues that integrating the population dimension into natural resource management agendas enhances and ultimately improves conservation objectives, while also addressing a root cause of resource degradation and poverty. The evidence also implies that to ensure long- term sustainability of conservation gains and prevent over- use of natural resources, family planning services are necessary."

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