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Gender activist supports campaign against teenage pregnancy

BY: Salomey Appiah-Adjei
 Nana Otua Owusuaa I
Nana Otua Owusuaa I

A gender activist, Nana Otua Owusuaa I, has launched a programme in support of the national campaign against teenage pregnancy.

As part of her campaign, Nana Owusuaa, who is also the Akwaaboahene of Akropong-Akuapim in the Eastern Region, has published a book titled: “Innocence - Shadow of Shame” to serve as a supplementary reading material for the junior and senior high schools, as well as technical and vocational institutions to educate boys and girls on teenage pregnancy and its consequences.

The move, which is in collaboration with the Ghana Education Service and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, is to educate schoolchildren on teenage pregnancies and the consequences of pre-marital sex.

The worrying situation

In an interview with the Daily Graphic, Nana Otua Owusuaa said teenage pregnancy was a universal problem which, among other things, caused an increase in poverty and illiteracy.

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Nana Owusuaa, who expressed concern over the increasing cases of teenage pregnancy in the country, said the rate at which teenagers were giving birth at the early stages of their lives was not healthy for the country’s future development.

A Ghana Health Service report for 2015 indicated that more than 13,000 teenage girls got pregnant in the Central Region.

According to the United Nations, 21 million girls aged 15 to 19 were likely to become pregnant in developing regions annually.

She said it was worrying that children as young as 10 years were getting pregnant and dropping out of school, thereby missing out on socio-economic opportunities, asking, “Children are giving birth to babies so who is taking care of who?”

“As a country we cannot continue like this, we need to cut off this menace at a certain point and the time is now. We have to break that cycle and breed high-quality children for the future generation,” she noted.

The consequences

While teenage pregnancy remained a major contributor to maternal and child mortality, Nana Owusuaa said it could also lead to devastating health consequences for many of the affected girls.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), adolescent mothers aged 10 to 19 faced higher risks of pregnancy-related conditions such as eclampsia, endometritis and systemic infections than women aged 20 to 24.

Nana Owusuaa, therefore, underscored the need for the country to invest and commit more resources to adolescent reproductive health and rights, including the free distribution of sanitary towels.

Foundation

As part of the efforts to raise awareness and reduce teenage pregnancy, Nana Owusuaa said she was collaborating with other queenmothers for the campaign to counsel young girls, as well as provide them with the needed support.

She further explained that the book on teenage pregnancy would be launched within the year, after which proceeds from it would be used to set up a foundation to support children who dropped out of school as a result of teenage pregnancy.

She advised young girls to plan their lives well and get a job or trade to enable them to fend for themselves before planning to have a baby in order to take good care of the child.

She also urged parents to stop the blame game when their child got pregnant and focus on the support for the child to have a better future for herself and the baby.