USAID Funds Pull-Out

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As early as April, media reported on the United States Agency

For International Development’s (USAID) phase out of its assistance to the country in terms of contraceptive supplies. The USAID has been supporting the country’s population program for 30 years with US$30 million a year’s supply of artificial contraceptives such as condoms and pills. Dayrit, on the other hand, said that it is not a total pull-out of support, it is just some sort or reducing their contraceptive supply in the country”. (Today, April 8)

A USAID official said, “The agency’s planned withdrawal is premised on the notion that after 30 years, the Philippine government is now prepared to implement its health programs. Meanwhile, Helath Undersecretary Milagros Fernandez assured the public that the DOH is prepared for the withdrawal and has already provided budget for projects that will be affected by the plans of USAID”. (Malaya, April 22)

The DOH disclosed that even if the USAID will pull out its support, the government could sustain funding for the programs. DOH Head Executive Assistant Dr. Consorcia Lim-Quizon said, “the reported withdrawal of funding support for the population program had been anticipated long before the news broke out.” She said that in case it actually happens, it gives DOH enough time to plan especially since it still has supplies until 2003. (Manila Bulletin, July 26)

In another development, the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) accused the government of reprogramming the DOH budget allocation from contraceptive supplies to natural family planning, following the impending cut-off of funds on contraceptives by the USAID. The group said that by limiting the access of Filipinos to the full range of contraceptive methods, the government imperils the future of the nation. (Daily tribune, August 2)

By the 3rd quarter, the USAID said that it is making a strategic shift in its assistance for the country’s population program. Its officials said that instead of pulling out funding support, the agency is expanding its program of assistance by involving the private sectors in the provision of family planning services. (Manila Bulletin, August 5)

Meanwhile, the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. urged the government to allocate a specific budget line item for family planning in the General Appropriations Act that would cover the US$2 million expected shortfall when the USAID reduces its contraceptive donations to US$3 million. The group added that the state should ensure that the funds for family planning and reproductive health are allocated and utilized accordingly and not only for the promotion of natural family planning and sterilization. (Malaya, August 8)

Come September, the USAID confirmed its decision to shift away from contraceptive procurement assistance and move towards other forms of support for country’s FP program. The agency said that the decision is in consonance with the Philippine government’s goal of eventual contraceptive procurement strategy, the USAID said that it is committed to provide US$3 million a year in basic contraceptives in 2003 and 2004 to meet the needs of those who cannot pay for their supply of condoms, pills, IUDs and injectables. (Malaya, September 25)

In a creative way of mass protest, pro-choice advocates marched and picketed in front of US Embassy in September not by raising clenched fists but by waving condoms and lighting sky rockets wrapped in prophylactics to rally against the USAID withdrawal. About 50 protesters from Women Range and Sanlakas joined the rally. (PDI, September 27)

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