Sun, 06 Mar 2005


30% of RP couples unaware about birds and bees

Some 30 percent of couples in the predominantly Catholic Philippines are not aware that having sex can result in babies, the health secretary said on Tuesday.

Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit said many women "don't even understand that they have a uterus" where babies are conceived.

"It's incredulous, but it's true," he said. "They don't know how pregnancy happens."

Dayrit said the surprising discovery was made as health workers conducted a door-to-door campaign to promote family planning.

He blamed the culture for a lack of knowledge about sex and other reproductive health issues among Filipino couples, noting that, "People don't talk about sex."

"So you can just imagine why very few people practice family planning," he added.

According to a nationwide survey conducted in November to December last year, only three out of 10 Filipinos practice family planning. The majority of them were using artificial contraceptives including birth control pills, intrauterine device, injectables and condoms, the survey added.

Dayrit said he was hopeful the government's door-to-door campaign would help "create a healthy supportive environment where people can talk about sex and fertility".

"We are doing this in the hope that, eventually, couples can prevent pregnancies if they wish," he added.

The Philippines' population, currently estimated at 84 million, is growing at 2.36 percent annually. Business leaders and multilateral institutions have warned that failure to curb the population growth could drive more Filipinos into poverty.

But the influential Roman Catholic Church opposes government efforts to curb population growth, especially when it comes to promoting the use of artificial contraceptives.

The Philippines is Asia's only predominantly Roman Catholic country, with more than 80 percent of the population adhering to the religion. -- DPA