THE number of unintended pregnancies in the Philippines could experience a spike if the quarantine measures caused by the novel coronavirus remain in place until the end of 2020, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said on Tuesday, September 29.
According to the agency, the number of women expected to give birth this year could increase by almost half to 2.6 million if movement restrictions stay until the year-end.
“This is an epidemic within an epidemic,” noted UNFPA program officer Aimee Santos-lyons during a Senate hearing.
“The restrictions on mobility were designed to slow down and prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Yet the unintended consequence of this measure may have helped reinforce gender discrimination and inequity,” she added.
Citing a study by the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI), the UNFPA pointed out that the continued lockdown is causing 60 additional maternal deaths a month, since the restrictions are preventing two million more women from accessing family planning needs.
The study also said that sexual and physical violence among partners could rise to as much as 839,000 by the end of the year.
“These issues of women and children have largely remained invisible during the pandemic. It’s time to put them front and center,” said Senator Risa Hontiveros, head of the chamber’s committee on women.
President Rodrigo Duterte approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) on Monday, September 28, which will keep Metro Manila under general community quarantine (GCQ) for the entire month of October.
Aside from the capital region, the province of Batangas, and the cities of Tacloban, Bacolod, Iligan, and Iloilo will also be placed under GCQ.
Meanwhile, Lanao del Sur, including Marawi City, will remain under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
“The rest of the country will be under modified general community quarantine,” Duterte announced.