Unintended pregnancies in the Philippines could spike by almost half to 2.6 million if movement restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic remain until yearend, the United Nations Population Fund said.
Quarantine measures are also causing 60 additional maternal deaths a month, as restrictions prevent two million more women to access family planning needs, the agency said, citing a study by the University of the Philippines Population Institute.
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"These numbers are an epidemic in itself," Aimee Santos, the U.N. agency's gender program officer in the Philippines, said at a Senate hearing Tuesday.
The Philippines, which has the second-highest population in Southeast Asia at 108.4 million, kept its capital under loose restrictions through October. It has the region's worst virus outbreak, with over 307,000 infections as of Monday.
"These issues of women and children have largely remained invisible during the pandemic. It's time to put them front and center," said Senator Risa Hontiveros, head of the chamber's committee on women. She backed calls for more female officials in the nation's task force against the coronavirus outbreak.