Pregnant adolescents and adolescent mothers have said supportive families would make immense difference in ensuring their re-integration and adjustment into society.
This they believe will enable them to fully pursue their educational and economic growth and development.
The teenagers, who spoke to the Daily Graphic at Golokwati in the Afadzato South District, said persisting antagonism within their communities have overshadowed an improved access to information and knowledge of sexual reproductive health issues, which could help them make informed choices.
Lack of knowledge
Eighteen-year-old Dogbe Seyram from Sadzikope in the Afadzato South District who spoke to the Daily Graphic said she became pregnant during her second year in senior high school (SHS) and was eager to go back to school to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse due to her supportive parents.
She indicated that she would not have become pregnant if she had knowledge of the implications of teenage pregnancy and available sexual reproductive health services.
Twenty-two-year-old Loretta also told the Daily Graphic her parents were initially supportive after she gave birth at 17 while preparing for her Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).
She said the support enabled her to return to school to complete her basic education and subsequently gain admission into the SHS.
Loretta’s parents, however, withdrew their support following a second pregnancy during her second year in SHS.
A number of others who spoke to the Daily Graphic exhibited little to no knowledge of sexual reproductive health and its services.
The provision of information on safe sexual practices, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), including child marriage and existing opportunities for re-entry into school after pregnancy may prove valuable for empowering the girls to consider going back to school and learning a trade to improve their lives.
Evidence from the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has shown an increase in adolescent pregnancy in the Volta Region from 13.5 per cent in 2020 to 14.4 per cent (January to September, 2021).
The GHS 2021 district ranking of teenage pregnancy in the region continues to show high rates of adolescent pregnancies especially South Dayi (15.4 per cent from 14.4 per cent in 2020), with Central Tongu recording 20 per cent and Akatsi North the highest rate of 22.2 per cent (from January to September 2021).
Adolescent pregnancy among 10 to 14-year olds has also seen significant increase from 0.36 per cent in 2020 to 0.56 per cent (Jan. to Sept. 2021) with Akatsi North recording the highest of 4.5 per cent followed by Central Tongu 1.2 per cent (Jan. to Sept. 2021).
It is against this background that the Volta Regional Department of Gender with support from the UNFPA is holding two advocacy meetings with pregnant adolescents and adolescent mothers as part of its seventh country programme, to increase their knowledge of the implications and prevention of adolescent pregnancy, SGBV and Child Marriage.
Director of the Department of Gender, Thywil Eyram Kpe, said multiple stakeholders had been targeted in the implementation of the interventions.
She said several other community watch committees had also come together to protect the adolescents from pregnancies.
Afadzato South Girls Education Officer, Janet Esi Hammond, said since the implementation of the re-entry policy by the Ghana Education Service (GES), the district had recorded 45 re-entry students between 2018 and 2021.