TACLOBAN CITY – The Commission on Population Development (CPD) has renewed its call to local government units to appoint barangay (village) population volunteers to carry out family planning programs in communities.

CPD Eastern Visayas regional director Elnora Pulma said the role of community volunteers is very crucial since the resources of the central government to bring family planning services to every household are very limited.

Pulma said that about 20 percent of the region’s 4,390 villages have no population volunteers while the remaining 80 have inactive population volunteers.

In some areas, these population volunteers also act as community health workers or nutrition scholars, making family planning services the least priority.

“They need to mobilize community workers to map and locate couples and individuals with unmet needs for family planning, conduct community-based demand generation and referral activities, and ensure provisions of quality modern family planning information and services guided by the principle of informed choice and voluntarism,” Pulma told reporters on Wednesday.

They were also assigned to carry out measures to ensure the delivery of basic services and provision of adequate facilities relative to the integration of the population development principles and in providing access to services and facilities.

The CPD regional office emphasized the importance of community workers as they held the first search for winners of Rafael M. Salas Kaunlarang Pantao Awards Most Outstanding Barangay Population Volunteer.

There have been awards conferred to local governments and partner agencies in the past, but it is only this year that the focus is on community volunteers.

The award is named after Salas, the first head of the United Nations Population Fund. His tenure started at the agency’s inception in 1969 and ended with his sudden death in 1987.

He was a pioneer in the field of population who advocated the importance of understanding the links between population and development and the need to take population factors into account in development planning.

Melissa Rafols of Sto. Niño village Tacloban City, was named the most outstanding barangay population volunteer under the city category.

Rafols, who has been working as a barangay service point officer in their village for eight years now, will be the official entry of Eastern Visayas to the national validation, along with the municipal category winner Carolina Llames Lopez from Carigara, Leyte. (PNA)