Pandemic causes decline in 2020 births 
Numbers lowest in 34 years, CAR remains at the bottom of the list

Based on the preliminary report of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in June 2021, there is a significant drop in the number of births in 2020, with just 1,516,042 million registered in the country—the lowest number registered since 1986, when only 1,493,995 Filipinos were born in a year.

As compared to the 1.675 million recorded live births in 2019, there is a 9.43% drop in live births or 157,881 babies born  in 2020.

The said PSA report also shows that the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) ranks last nationwide in the number of births in 2020 during the COVID -19 pandemic. Data shows that CAR recorded a total of 26,142 live births from January 2020 to May 2021.

This can be linked to the 9% increase in family planning users in CAR, from 120,794 in 2019 to 131,989 in 2020, who have availed of services in health facilities despite mobility restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

POPCOM-CAR Regional Director Magdalena G. Abellera also shared that contributory to the decrease is the intensified implementation of the program on Family Planning in 2019, where project staffs were hired in the campaign of Family Planning to create greater awareness. “At the regional level, there has been good partnership between POPCOM and DOH in the co-management of FP in intensifying demand generation, media advocacy, warehousing and deliveries of FP commodities and others. Such efforts were also supported by DILG Memorandum Circular 2019-100 on the Designation of Local Population Officers, Volunteers and Workers to Intensify the Implementation of the National Program on Population and Family Planning (NPPFP).  Unwavering support of the LGUs at various levels, the RPFP-RIT, NEDA, FPOP and partnerships with the CSOs is also a big factor to this”, RD Abellera added.

In addition, Undersecretary for Population and Development (POPDEV) Dr. Juan Antonio Perez III attributes the decline in the 2020 birth rate to the combined effects of fewer marriages, women who postponed pregnancies during the pandemic, and the increase in women using modern family planning methods to prevent unplanned pregnancies.

“What we feared at the onset of the pandemic did not happen,” POPCOM’s Executive Director declared. “From the PSA numbers, it is clear that Filipino women are deciding to delay having children, and families are deferring, or avoiding, to have more kids, as they were made well-aware of the possible hardships and inconveniences in securing medical, as well as family planning services, since the pandemic has severely impeded health-care systems.”

Despite also being heavily compromised due to ensuing travel restrictions and limited local health-care capacities, Perez is also pleased with the outcome of family planning services in the country in 2020, with the addition of 400,000 users nationwide, which brought the total to more than 8 million protected Filipino men, women and couples.

Concerted efforts by the national government to support local family planning services, related organizations, and stakeholders from the public and private sectors have heightened Filipinos’ awareness and interest in the potential risks of pregnancy and childbirth during the health crisis.

“Ordinary Filipino families have realized and felt the impact of economic crisis in this time of pandemic, which prompted them to make priorities and plan better for their families.

As we move forward, let us sustain our efforts of good partnerships and continue support for the increase of demand generation. Let’s continue to help couples discern what’s best for their families and not only for their health, and let’s work together towards achieving our aspirations articulated in Ambisyon Natin2040 towards a Matatag, Maginhawa at Panatag na Buhay”, RD Abellera stressed. ##