Sunday, August 08, 2010

Population Assessment Based on Quality of Life


Kapehan guests on July 31 (l to r) are Ms. Rodelyn Panadero, Statistician, National Census & Statistics Office (NSO), Ms. Beverly Tropa, Statistician, Provincial Population and Gender Office, Dr. Emma Cortez, Provincial Health Officer, and Mr. Blas M. Solidum, Provincial Census Officer.

Dynamic issue on "Population Planning and Development" was the topic during the Kapehan forum on July 31, 2010 at Smokehauz Resto & Bar. Guests were Dr. Emma Cortez, Provincial Health Officer, Ms. Rodelyn Panadero, Statistician, National Census & Statistics Office (NSO), Mr. Blas M. Solidum, Provincial Census Officer, and Ms. Beverly Tropa, Statistician, Provincial Population and Gender Office.

Atty. Ronquillo C. Tolentino underscored the need for population management since in a modern world, no nation can progress unless there is a healthy citizenry. He is supported by Atty. Allen S. Quimpo that "while it is true that human resource is important, it can also be a liability. There must be a critical balance between our resource capability and population surge in order to achieve physically strong and mentally alert population", he said.

Ms. Tropa mentioned that advocacy of the present administration is natural family planning. Continuous information education is being closely coordinated with DOH and LGU officials. As a result, they were able to reached 9,000 couples in 200 barangays for the last three years. Topics include parenting, family relationship, home manage-ment, family budgeting and others. Of course, another priority are adolescents who are about to enter married life.

Mr. Solidum said that because of manual processing of recently concluded Population & Housing Census, official data could be available only towards end of this year. However, he estimates that Aklan population increase for the last ten years may not differ significantly from the 1.29 percent previous record.

Dr. Cortez reported an alarming outbreak of Dengue fever citing 191 confirmed cases from January to July this year. This is above last year’s data when there were only 113 cases. The vulnerable ones are kids 8-9 years old. Although adults are also at risk. Prevalent cases are found in Kalibo (63), New Washington (32) and Numancia (28). The PHO has taken emergency measures on intensive information drive, heightened surveillance system (Epedemiology unit) and coordination with LGU officials and PNRC.

The lady physician said that there are two known carriers of Dengue virus namely: Aegis aypti mosquito specie that prefers cooler environment or inside houses and Aegis albofectus which prefers outdoors. The former lays eggs on water content of flower vases, open water containers, and others, lurk behind cabinets, tables and furnishings. Albofectus spawns on halved coco shells, bamboo poles, tin cans, gutter and old tires. All Dengue carrier mosquitoes bites only during daytime while malaria insect vectors strike at night. Both are considered deadly although preventable.

DOH has formulated four strategies to cope with the problem of Dengue namely: a) Search and destroy breeding places. This is self-explanatory; b) Self protection – school kids are advised to wear long pants and sleeves. Windows need to be screened and families urged to use mosquito nets.

c) Seek early consultation and treatment – high fever signs for 2-7 days, rashes, loss of appetite and bleeding are signs of the disease. Patients must be brought to a nearest hospital without delay. Normal blood platelet count is 200,000 – 250,000. Infected ones have 50,000 or less. Unfortunately, Aklan has no machine to segregate blood platelets. Hence, the need to bring patients to Western Visayas Regional Medical Center, Iloilo City; and d) Say no to indiscriminate fogging – pesticides tend to develop insect immunity and destroys only the adults.

On the subject of Filariasis prevention and control, Dr. Cortez said that free mass vaccination program is targeting only population aged more than two years old. Exempted are people with pulmonary TB and cancer. One dose is administered and immunity against the disease is for life.

Population management is a balancing act of targeting socio-economic development and the extent by which population levels may be reached. The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) increase during the Arroyo Administration averaged 4.5 percent while annual exponential population growth registered 2.0 percent. Sadly, rice output grows only at 1.0 percent per year. Hence, the perennial rice importation. The more pressing problems include upgrading standards of health, education, infra, agriculture, power and housing. Our financial resources however are hampered by 42 percent debt servicing and endemic corruption.

The population slogan "Kung maliit and pamilya, kayang-kaya", could be the best if effectively implemented by all government agencies. The main reason is that government agencies are composed of people and Popcom is undermanned and under equipped.

However, the irony is that the Popcom office only adopts the natural family planning method while promoting informed choice. Everybody knows that there are two methods: natural and artificial. The former uses abstinence, withdrawal and mucous ovulation. The latter method uses the contraceptive pill, condom, tubal ligation, intra-uterine device (IUD) and vasectomy.

The Roman Catholic Church strongly condemns reproductive health based on unnecessary tampering of normal human fruition. They contend they are pro-life and must protect the unborn.

Meanwhile, DOH argues that reproductive health is actually pro-life since definitely no fetus is involved here but the couple’s decision to space child birth. Normally, it takes two years to bring back to normal a woman’s’ health after giving birth. Adding a full year prior to another birth or three years would satisfy a wholesome married and family life. This pre-emptive process is oftentimes confused with abortion which is the reverse objective of reproductive health.

While human error governs most of unexpected pregnancies, natural family planning owing to its active surveillance and implementation technique especially mucous ovulation, and temperature change get 40 percent effectivity. On the other hand, artificial method normally achieves more than 90 percent. Moreover, recent NSO data reveal that majority of marginalized people in rural areas do not have access to information on responsible family planning.

Obviously, there is urgent need to limit population growth to manageable level since this is not productive and sustainable. With present Filipino household size, two members support three dependents while in developed countries five support one dependent. Data from the World Bank and supported by SWS survey show that one third of Filipino families live on a dollar income per day. Decidedly, population must not be based on quantitative assessment but quality which is synonymous with better life and stability. /MP

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