The Commission on Population and Development in Central Visayas (POPCOM VII) conducted a Bilateral Tubal Ligation (BTL) activity in Olango Island last August 31, 2020 which culminates the Family Planning Month in partnership with DKT Philippines, the Department of Health-City Health Department (DOH CHD VII), and the local government unit (LGU) of Lapu-Lapu City with Sta. Rosa Community Hospital. The team was led by POPCOM VII Asst. Regional Director Darlynn S. Remolino, Sybel Alquizola, OIC of POPCOM VII Technical Division, and Dr. Dino D. Caing from the Department of Health Local Health Support Division. Out of 72 interested clients, 40 women who were screened for medical eligibility had successfully undergone bilateral tubal ligation by minilaparotomy under local anaesthesia. Minilaparotomy, generally referred to as “minilap,” is an abdominal surgical approach to the fallopian tubes by means of an incision less than 5 cm. in length as a sterilization procedure for permanently sealing the fallopian tubes.
Mildred Diaz, a family planning (FP) acceptor and BTL client came with her husband who wanted to show his support for her during the procedure. The Diaz couple believes that family planning is important, especially at this time of the pandemic to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Bilateral Tubal Ligation (BTL) is a surgical procedure in family planning that involves blocking the fallopian tubes to prevent the ovum (egg) from being fertilized. The BTL Caravan in Olango Island was also made possible with the easing of quarantine status in the region now set to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
Since March, 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly challenged POPCOM VII from visiting the islands and grappling with its protocols. But the agency maintains its mandate to provide family planning (FP) services to achieve fertility intentions and these have been delivered through the best practices and heroic deeds of the Population Officers, midwives and Barangay Health Workers. Many of them conducted home visits as a team and held clinics in health centers while observing physical distancing, using face shields and face masks even at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As early as April, 2020 POPCOM VII in partnership with DKT Philippines distributed family planning commodities (condoms, pills and later, implants), and IECs about family planning and COVID-19. Under current circumstances, POPCOM VII adjusted to the context of the pre-vaccine period and still holds family planning services with different classes and activities, such as the Pre-Marriage Orientation and Counselling (PMOC), online USAPAN and Enhanced USAPAN Sessions, and home visits. The pandemic has provided POPCOM VII with creative methods and strategies to reach out to clients maximizing the platform at the internet.
This year 2020, the Commission on Population and Development in Central Visayas (POPCOM VII) gradually meets its target of 84,000 clients in family planning (FP) by posting 32,368 or 38.53% accomplished for the period January to July 2020 and it’s identified unmet need of 1,790 has served a total of 990 representing 55% accomplishment with the help of civil society organizations (CSOs) and POPCOM VII partners: Glory Reborn, Friendly Care and the Integrated Midwives Association of the Philippines, Inc. (IMAP).
POPCOM VII regional director Atty. Bruce N. Ragas said, “The office responded according to the protocols set by the Department of Health, the Civil Service Commission and the local government units (LGUs). While it was very difficult to provide family planning services we were able to deliver as public health workers.” POPCOM VII is currently preparing for its upcoming online Regional Population Management Conference (RPMC) to gather more updates and best practices from the field.