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“Muslim families have the freedom to decide on the health services they receive,” Interim Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim

Cotabato City, the Philippines, 3 December 2019 - With the support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Philippine Department of Health, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Assembly of the Regional Darul Ifta’ in the BARMM (RDI-BARMM) has launched the compiled “Fatawa” (Islamic rulings) on Reproductive Health and Family Planning and Immunization.

The issuance of the new Fatawa was an outcome of a series of consultations with Muslim Religious Leaders (MRLs) from the Provinces of Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, and Cities of Lamitan and Marawi. It is aimed at ensuring that health programmes and projects implemented across the region are in harmony with the teachings of Islam and are contextualized for BARMM.

RDI upheld that “improved reproductive health condition benefits the individual Muslim and strengthens the Muslim society socially, economically, politically and in all other aspects of human life”. Grand Mufti Abuhuraira Udasan, RDI Executive Director, said, “Life-saving is the most important human right. If giving birth endangers the health of the mother, the use of contraceptives is justified in Islam. This is for the safety of mothers.”

Access to family planning methods is part of the global and national strategies in averting maternal and neonatal mortalities and morbidities. The 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey revealed that in the previous ARMM, 18% of married women age 15-49 have “unmet need for family planning” meaning they wanted to stop or delay childbearing but were not able to use any method of contraception. During the recent ICPD+25 Nairobi Summit held in Kenya on 12-14 November 2019, the Philippine government declared its renewed commitment to ensuring “universal access of all Filipinos to reproductive health care and services including family planning information and services,” in line with Agenda 2030 including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).   This Fatawa is a step towards fulfilling this commitment, to eliminate unmet need for modern family planning, adolescent pregnancy and HIV/AIDS infections.

According to BARMM Health Minister Dr. Safrullah Dipatuan, “Reproductive health and family planning is consistent with Islam, because Islam religion is aiming towards the betterment of families and children”. Family planning is not only a public health measure, but a poverty alleviation strategy and a means towards achieving sustainable development.

At the Fatawa signing and launching ceremony held on 19 November 2019 in Cotabato City, BARMM Interim Chief Minister Hon. Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, Al Haj underscored the need to ensure that Muslim families have the freedom to decide on the health services they receive, which would include making a voluntary and informed choice on the number, timing and spacing of children.

Since 2012, UNFPA has been facilitating South-South cooperation (SSC) between the Philippines and Indonesia to learn about best practices on reproductive health and family planning among both countries’ Muslim Religious Leaders and local government officials. Following the establishment of BARMM/Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) earlier this year, MOH is now actively involved in this SSC.  “UNFPA stands ready to provide continued assistance to the SSC and other initiatives with the BTA government, Muslim leaders and people of BARMM so as to enable this new Fatawa and related messages to reach as many communities and populations as possible, and thereby make a difference in the lives of the Bangsamoro people, especially women, adolescents and youth,” said Mr. Vicente B. Jurlano, Population and Development Officer, who represented UNFPA in the Fatawa launching ceremony.



For more information or media inquiries please contact:

Mr. Kim Ian Tiu, UNFPA Reproductive Health Coordinator for Mindanao, Tel: +63 9954486403; Email: