Philippines Prepares for Coronavirus Baby Boom in 2021

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“UP [University of the Philippines] Population Institute has predicted a baby boom by 2021,” Philippine Sen. Risa Hontiveros said in a radio interview Monday.

An estimated “751,000 unplanned pregnancies, including teenage pregnancies … [are expected next year] as a result of today’s [coronavirus] pandemic,” she explained, as reported by the Philippine Star on Tuesday.

A strict lockdown of the Philippines’ capital and population center, Manila, “since March has further increased the possibilities of unplanned pregnancies,” Sen. Hontiveros noted.

Juna Antonio Perez, the executive director of the Philippine Commission on Population and Development, agreed with Hontiveros that next year could see the nation’s highest number of births ever.

“[W]e have the same projection of an increase. The family planning program will be somewhat affected by the lockdowns as women will not be able to avail of the family planning method, while men will not get condoms and vasectomy,” Perez said on Monday, according to the report.

“The family planning program will be affected definitely and those who can’t afford family planning … will get pregnant. So our population will increase. The number of births next year would be the highest number in the history of the Philippines,” she added.

The Philippines’ National Economic and Development Authority considers the rising rate of teenage pregnancy “a social emergency,” according to Hontiveros. “Our hospital[s] and our dying healthcare system are also struggling. There is a huge possibility of not being properly cared for by the mother as well as the child,” she explained.

Hontiveros added that she has been advocating for “the passage of a national policy in preventing adolescent pregnancies and institutionalizing social protection for adolescent parents.”

In late June, the UP and the United Nations Population Fund released a joint study in which they predicted nearly two million babies to be born in the Philippines next year as a result of lockdown measures during the coronavirus pandemic. According to the study, restricted movement during the capital’s coronavirus lockdown prevented women from visiting medical facilities where they would normally obtain contraceptives. Many women’s health clinics were forced to close during the shutdown as well.

In March, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a “total lockdown” of Metro Manila in a bid to curb the spread of the Chinese coronavirus. Security forces restricted the movement of roughly 13 million people in the capital for 76 consecutive days in one of the world’s most stringent coronavirus lockdowns. The government eased quarantine measures on June 1, though some restrictions on movement remain.