According to the Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) of the Public Health Division of the Ghana Health Service, teenage or adolescence literally means to “grow up”, a term given to one phase or stage in the growth and development of human beings.
Teenage pregnancy is, therefore, getting pregnant at this adolescent or teenage period.
Adolescent or teenage pregnancy is caused by many factors that have serious consequences for individuals, family, society and national development.
Some of these factors are the high levels of poverty throughout communities, early marriage, gender discrimination based on historic unequal gender roles, the lack of sexual and reproductive health education, lack of access to contraceptive use and discrimination against reproductive rights for young women.
Causes and effects
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Understanding both the individual and societal causes and effects of teenage pregnancy is important to effectively reducing the high rates in Ghana.
Addressing a press conference organised by the Brong Ahafo Presbytery to round up its 52nd presbytery session in Sunyani on the theme: “Let the earth hear,” the Chairperson of the Brong Ahafo Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Rev. Dr William Kwabena Ofosu-Addo, spoke about the issue of teenage pregnancy.
He disclosed that statistics from the Ghana Health Service showed that 10,476 cases of teenage pregnancy were recorded in the region from January to October in 2015, explaining that out of the figure, 280 of the pregnant girls fell between 10 to 14 years, while 10,196 of them were between 15 to 19 years.
Rev. Ofosu-Addo, who was unhappy about the situation, appealed to chiefs and other stakeholders to collaborate to bring the situation under control.
He encouraged colleague pastors to use their pulpits to preach against immoral sexual activities and educate their members to refrain from pre-mature sex.
The right of adolescents must be protected for them to develop into a well-balanced people who are adequately prepared to enter adulthood. Parents and guardians must fulfil with care the rights and responsibilities of adolescents.
They must provide direction and guidance to their adolescent children in the exercise of their rights. States parties must take effective measures to ensure that adolescents are protected from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.
Adolescent girls should have access to information on the harm that early marriage and early pregnancy can cause. Adolescent boys and girls should be given the opportunity to participate actively in planning programme for their own health and development.
Finally, adolescents should be helped to feel appreciated, have believe in their own worth, know their rights and responsibilities and have a sense of belonging, as well as hope for the future.
Those who had already fallen in the trap should not be neglected. They should be encouraged to attend antenatal and post-natal. They should be supported financially and emotionally.
They should be helped in taking care of their babies. They should let them know that they have a right to health care etc. It is the responsibility of parents, friends, teachers and everyone to encourage them to not give up their education when the need comes for them to go and deliver. They should be empowered to pursue their dreams and go high.
Teenage pregnancy affects the teenage mother, the nation and the child. But it can be largely prevented. This is when we appreciate that the problem of adolescent pregnancy is everybody’s concern. It is not far from you and neither is it far from me.
We all have to play our roles respectively, to ensure that our adolescents are given the needed care and support to prevent this problem.