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Republic of Korea, 3 UN agencies ink Php490M joint programme to reduce adolescent pregnancy in two poorest provinces in Eastern Visayas

From left: Ms. Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov, Representative UNICEF, Dr Leila Saiji Joudane, Representative UNFPA, Mr. Kim Eunsub, Country Director KOICA, and Dr. Graham Harrison, OIC Representative WHO during the signing ceremony at the UN Philippines Office on 25 November 2022. Credit: Denvie Balidoy/UNFPA

Manila, 21 November 2022 – The Republic of Korea, through the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), signed today a four-year partnership agreement worth about Php 490 million with three UN agencies to support the Philippine Government in accelerating the reduction of adolescent pregnancy and promoting adolescent health and well-being in the provinces of Southern Leyte and Samar.

This joint programme between KOICA and UNFPA, UNICEF, and WHO will be implemented under the auspices of UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez. From 2022 to 2026, the joint programme will aim to improve access to quality information and services for adolescents, raise adolescents’ self-awareness and rights to enable them to make informed choices about their own bodies, and enhance governance for adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health.

In Eastern Visayas, where the two provinces belong, 10.5 percent of women have unmet needs for modern family planning. This mirrors the national average, according to the 2017 Philippines National Demographic and Health Survey.

In Southern Leyte, in particular, where 25 births are recorded per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19 years, reproductive health services and programs are often disrupted for long periods because of poverty and following disasters in the province.

Meanwhile, according to the 2020 Civil Registration and Vital Statistics in the Philippines, Samar reported 961 births among adolescent mothers in Samar, second only to Southern Leyte. Samar is the second poorest province in the region, which accounts for the fact that women aged 19 years and younger reported a low utilization rate of modern contraceptives, according to the 2021 report of the Field Health Service Information System.

KOICA Country Director Eunsub Kim said, “This joint programme shows Korea’s commitment to the Philippines to contribute to achieving a healthy life and universal health for all. We look forward to closely working with the entire team as we start the implementation of this project in Southern Leyte and Samar. We are all in this together working towards improving the comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights of Filipino adolescents in the Philippines!”

At the same time, Gonzalez said, “This joint programme brings together the global knowledge of three highly experienced UN agencies to work with national and local authorities in addressing critical development challenges. We thank Korea for its vision of building such a meaningful alliance to leave no one behind.”

In addition, UNFPA Philippines Country Representative Dr. Leila Joudane said that “this momentous partnership is a valuable investment for the future of the young people in Samar and Southern Leyte that will empower them to make decisions for their own health, dignity, and well-being. UNFPA remains committed to its mission to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.”

Moreover, UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov said, “The invaluable contribution of the people of the Republic of Korea comes at a crucial time when the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted access to sexual and reproductive health services. Through this partnership, UNICEF is fully committed to working together to promote the empowerment of the youth on their sexual and reproductive health rights and bodily autonomy. It calls for the right education, knowledge, supportive environment and structures, and adolescent-friendly services delivered through participatory, community-based, and disaster-resilient interventions.”

WHO Philippines Officer-in-Charge Dr. Graham Harrison said “WHO advocates for a life-course approach to improving well-being, and we are committed to initiatives that lay the foundations of good health during adolescence. Through its technical expertise and evidence-based approach, WHO will help ensure high-quality and comprehensive health services in adolescent-friendly environments to address the public health and social impact of adolescent pregnancies. We thank the people of the Republic of Korea and KOICA for this meaningful and timely partnership,”

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