Thursday, October 3, 2013

Whose problem is teenage pregnancy?

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While the rest of the nation is preoccupied with the never-ending pork barrel saga, along comes an alarming piece of news about the skyrocketing rate of teenage pregnancy in our region. The rate, as per the National Statistics Office’s latest figures, has doubled. This means that despite the efforts of schools to continue to educate the youth about responsible parenthood, many young women are still getting pregnant while they are in their teenage years.
Teenage pregnancy involves a number of serious problems, not only to the mother, but also to society.
For one, teenage mothers often have little to no means of supporting their child.
Years of empirical data have also long established that getting pregnant at such a young age poses health risks to both the mother and the infant.
It is even said that majority of the deaths of teenage girls around the world is attributed to pregnancy.
On a larger scale, the poor health of women and children affects us all, as they form an integral part of our communities without whom it will be difficult for us to prosper.
Curiously, however, these shocking facts about teenage pregnancy, and maternal mortality as a whole, give rise to inadequate efforts in society to prevent them. Although some organizations are working hard to curb the rising numbers, the impact they make is still too small compared to what the nation needs to truly confront the issue.
The problem is that pledging to help in these pressing concerns involves a huge amount of commitment not only from the government but also from private individuals. Such commitment involves a rethinking of our campaign against teenage pregnancy, the improvement of roads that will give better access to health care services, or even a total overhaul of the health care system. We need more birthing facilities, medicines, and health care personnel deployed in remote barangays, as well as large cities, if only to show our determination against being defeated by the issue.
As the current rate of teenage pregnancy in the region reminds us, we can no longer afford to be content with half-hearted promises or lip service if we want to keep our youth from dying due to what is becoming an epidemic. The problem is real, and it is staring us right in the eye. It would be most unwise to simply look away, shrug it off, and say that the problem is not ours to begin with, when it so plainly is.

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Number of pregnant teens in Bicol doubles

VISUALIZATION: BICOL STANDARD

LEGASPI CITY, ALBAY— The pregnancy rate of women aged 15 to 19 in the region has doubled from 2006 to 2010, according to the Family Health Survey of the National Statistics Office.

Chi Laigo Vallido, an advocacy specialist of the non-government organization Forum for Family Planning and Development, announced the information during the recent First Adolescents Congress held in this province.

Vallido did not provide the actual data, but indicated that the number in Bicol is lower than the figures from other regions.

Global campaign

Vallido’s sentiments are echoed by the many organizations around the world, which call to prevent the enormous number of mothers dying from pregnancy and childbirth.

Teenage pregnancy is said to be the number one killer of girls aged 15 to 19 worldwide, says The Girl Effect, one of the groups seeking to curb the pressing problem. This is because women who get pregnant at such a young age are more prone to pregnancy-related complications. Among these are hemorrhage, eclampsia, obstructed labor, and infections.

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In developing countries, the same organization says that 1 out of 7 girls marry before they turn 15. One-half of the girls in developing countries also become mothers before they turn 18.

The Philippine situation

Data from the National Statistics Office show a correlation between teenage marriages and pregnancy, as well. Here, the number of teenage pregnancy cases continues to rise, while the number of teenage marriages has been steadily declining for the past ten years.

According to Vallido, the country has the highest number of teenage pregnancy cases in all of Asia. The number of cases also contributes 20 percent to the total number of maternal deaths in the country.

Such teenage pregnancy cases are allegedly responsible for the 500,000 to 800,000 cases of induced abortion that occur every year in the country.

Increased effort

Maternal health advocacy groups often argue that the government needs to put more effort into confronting the problem. Some suggested solutions are improved access to skilled medical care, enhanced facilities, and a wider educational campaign regarding responsible parenthood, particularly for the youth.
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