Merck has officially launched in the Philippines a new initiative that highlights the social, economic, and societal impacts of declining rates of birth. The Merck-supported Economist Impact’s Fertility Counts is aimed at encouraging policymakers and advocates to prioritize socio-economic incentives for couples who want to have children and contribute to building family-oriented societies.

The concept of Fertility Counts resonated with the recent publication from 2022 Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) revealed that the number of registered births fell from 1.76 million in 2013 to 1.46 million in 2022, a 17.4% reduction over ten years. This result also aligns with the 2022 National Demographic and Health Survey, indicating a declining fertility trend that has reached a TFR of 1.9, or below the replacement level of 2.1, possibly influenced by changing fertility preferences and/or the results of various programs and policies that have been in place to address the problem of population growth in the past decades.

Merck has underlined the significance of the local launch—the Philippines being a key market in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. The company also reiterated the country’s diverse demographic landscape and evolving social dynamics, factors that could support promotion of sustainable population growth and societal development.

In a statement, Merck identified the fundamental goal of Fertility Counts. It said that while the decision to have children is personal, “the aggregate impact of these choices affects the population count and overall economic stability of a country.” Merck pointed out that declining birth rates could be a crucial socio-economic issue as it could influence the structure and future of the national economy.

The ASPIRE Congress

To further emphasize the significance of Fertility Counts, Merck attends the Aspire Congress in the Philippines. The convention will serve as a platform for exchange of ideas and insights as well as exploration of innovative solutions among policymakers, healthcare professionals, advocates, and other stakeholders regarding slowing birth rates.

Merck will facilitate thought-provoking discussions on topics related to declining birth rates at the Congress. It will engage local and regional experts and stakeholders in identifying effective policies supporting the creation and development of family-friendly societies.

“We are thrilled to have the Fertility Counts initiative in the Philippines and be present at the Aspire Congress,” said Dr. Virgilio Novero, reproductive medicine specialist and former president of the Philippine Society of Reproductive Medicine.

“The Philippines holds a critical position in our mission to create family-friendly societies across the APAC region. Through collaborative efforts and informed policymaking, we aim to empower individuals and communities to make informed choices regarding family planning,” Dr. Novero added.

The Fertility Policy Toolkit

Merck is also unveiling the Fertility Counts Scorecard, a report it supported with global business intelligence firm Economist Impact. The report—generated by a panel of academic, clinical, and public sector experts in the region—provides an evidence-base for discussion and implementation of policies aimed at addressing diminishing fertility rates in the country and the APAC region.

The company identified the four specific policy areas targeted by the Fertility Policy Toolkit—childcare, workplace, financial incentives, and assisted reproduction. This resource offers practical guidance customized to the socio-economic contexts of various countries across the APAC region.

“We believe that by addressing the root causes of declining birth rates and advocating for supportive policies, we can positively impact the future of our communities,” said Merck Inc. Managing Director Martha Paiz Herrera.

The Total Fertility Rate in the Philippines has significantly decreased from about 6.8 children per woman in 1960 to just about 1.9 children per woman in 2022, which falls below the replacement-level fertility of 2.1 children per woman. The country’s young population is gradually ageing, with the proportion of people aged 60 and above expected to grow to 13 percent by 2050 from about 5 percent in 2020.

Across APAC, the number of people aged 60 and above is expected to triple from 2010 to 2050. In Japan, for instance, the workforce is forecast to diminish by 20 percent by the year 2040, posing significant challenges for economic growth and societal support structures, Meanwhile, in Taiwan, there would be 10 times fewer working-age people supporting each elderly individual between 1990 and 2050.

For more information about Fertility Counts, visit https://www.fertilitycounts.com.

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