Monday, October 10, 2011

Most Popular Pro-RH (HB 4244) RANTS debunked

If you listen and read to the proponents of this measure, you might actually begin thinking that it will solve so many problems confronting the Philippines.

Just considering the tweets and not the actual wording of the bill, here's a list of claims made for RH bill:

It will solve overpopulation.

A more gifted and glib Pro-RH advocate from Ateneo was stumped when I asked him this question: Being partly a bill that will address population growth issues, how fast will the RH Bill decelerate Philippine population growth?

Being the glib and agile talker that he is, he didn't answer the question directly.  His argument, or what he offered as an argument was mere rhetoric, "What I can say is that without the RH Bill, we can be certain that  in 10 years our population will reach over a 100 million."

The right answer would have required him to project growth rates to prove the impact of free and freely available contraception and contraception propaganda.  His numbers should show that upon the start of the implementation of a free contraceptives program, a percentage of poor fertile women would actually space their births with 3 year gaps and then come up with a figure that should be lower than the current 1.8 percent population growth that was registered by the World Bank in 2009.

More over, if you did Google the publicly available data on Philippine population growth, you'd see that our population growth rate has in fact slowed down -- for the most part -- without a massive government funded contraceptive program.

If this is so, what explains our population growth if fewer people are being added to the population?

To get a bead on the population of a country, you have to figure out a number of things:

1. Birth Rate.  That is the number of children born every year.
2. Life Expectancy. That is the average or expected life span of people who are born.
3. Death Rate.  That is how many people die every year.
4. Migration.  That is how many people move into or out of a given places every year.

One simple explanation given for our huge population is that people are simply taking a longer time to die or move to another country.  That isn't even factoring in the migration of people into the Philippines through our porous boarders and through legal means.

More than just providing contraception, another objective of RH is to prevent maternal deaths and this increases life expectancy for women even more.  Yet another is decreasing infant mortality.

From a population perspective alone, this will mean more mothers surviving pregnancy and more children surviving infancy. Ergo, more people and perhaps, an increase in population.

Anyway, with the population growth rate already dipping for the past few decades, the question is: Do we really need to give away free contraception versus other options such as a sustained, pervasive information campaign or using the parallel import scheme of the Cheaper Medicines Act to lower the cost of contraceptives?

In marketing cycles, when a product is new to a population, it becomes necessary to promote its use by giving it away free.  We've had all sorts contraceptives out in the open market for decades and with the exception of  a few types, they're pretty much a no-brainer to use -- would you believe condoms have instructions on it?

The point here is that people are already aware of or know about condoms, pills, and various kinds of contraceptives.  I think it's pretty unnecessary for government to still foot the bill for free contraceptives when the population in general already knows these things exist and can easily obtain information on its use from almost anywhere.

So, the next phase in the marketing cycle, really, is to get people to commit to use contraceptives and after that, the next phase will be to get the public endeared to the contraceptives. These two phases are much better tackled by private companies because government propaganda really sucks.

Premiere condoms, for example, is doing great -- as far as I can tell.  And you know what? These guys understandably support the RH Bill because they stand to benefit from any government action that's meant to promote the use of contraceptives.  So do several other pharmaceutical firms that make and sell various brands of contraceptives.

So, in the light of a slowing population growth rate, do we need to spend more money on contraceptives? Who is really going to benefit from RH? The poor or the rich multinational pharmaceutical companies and their PR/Advertising dogs?

And if you're thinking that poverty is caused by overpopulation, better test your thinking by reading this piece from Anti-Pinoy.

(More aggravation in the next few articles)

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