‘Strategic measures needed to curb teenage pregnancy’

BY: Gertrude Ankah Nyavi
Participants in the workshop.

A senior lecturer at the School of Public Health at the University of Ghana, Professor Augustine Ankomah, has called on all stakeholders to get on board to implement strategic measures and intensive educational programmes to help curb the rising cases of teenage pregnancy.

According to the 2014 Demographic and Health Survey of Ghana, he said, 14 per cent of adolescent girls aged between 15 and 19 are either mothers or pregnant with their first child, indicating that the figure was substantial, with the percentage as high as 22 per cent in some regions.

Prof. Ankomah made the statement at a workshop to disseminate research findings on Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health in Ghana in Accra on Friday.

Serious implications

He said the development had very serious implications, because the girls were not physiologically and socially mature to carry the pregnancy, while others had challenges with their partners who refuse to take responsibility for the pregnancy.

He further stated that the dreams of most of those girls became shattered, since the county’s educational policy did not permit them to continue schooling with the pregnancy, while some also felt reluctant to continue their education after delivery.

He indicated that with their situation, the girls were not able to contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic development of the country.

Prof. Ankomah cautioned that the development did not augur well for the country, since 30 per cent of its population were adolescents, and the group also constituted the future leaders of the country.

NPC’s research
In a related development, a research by the National Population Council (NPC) in 2013 revealed that adolescents in the Brong Ahafo Region were more sexually active, with teenage pregnancy also high.

Presenting the findings at the dissemination workshop, a Research Associate of NPC, Dr Dela Kusi-Appouh, said 41 per cent of girls aged between 13 and 19 had had sex in the Brong Ahafo Region, while 28 per cent of the same age had engaged in sex in Accra.

The research, which was aimed at understanding the geographical needs of adolescents in selected slums in the two regions, also showed that 31 per cent of the girls in the said bracket were pregnant in the Brong Ahafo Region, while 20 per cent were pregnant in Accra.

Socio-cultural beliefs
She attributed the development to the socio-cultural beliefs of the two regions.

The research recommended the need to strengthen adolescent sexual reproductive health in Ghana and school-based sex education, involve parents and communities in issues relating to adolescent health, address sexual coercion and also review national policy goals.

The event was also used to launch the Adolescent Health (ADH) Mobile Application which seeks to educate service providers on adolescent health-related issues.