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Teenage pregnancy in Upper East alarming – Awoonor-Williams

2010-07-19 23:24:27
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The Upper East Regional Director of Health Services, Dr John Koku Awoonor-Williams has expressed fears about the spate of teenage pregnancy in the region and stressed the need to reverse the trend.

Dr. Awoonor-William was speaking at the celebration of the “International Children’s Book Day”, organised by the Regional Library Board in Bolgatanga. He said in 2006, out of the 40,949 pregnancies that were registered in anti-natal facilities, 6,866 were teenagers representing 16.8 per cent.

In 2007, out of the 44,026, 6,015 were teenagers representing 13.6 per cent and in 2008, 5,916 out of the 41,026 representing 14.4 per cent were teenagers.

In 2009, out of the 40,666 pregnancies registered, 5,611 representing 13.8 per cent were also teenagers.

Dr Awoonor-Williams indicated that teenage pregnancy did not augur well for a region which was deprived in many areas.

He said dealing with an unplanned pregnancy by teenagers could be very scary and confusing for them and also life threatening because they were not matured physically and psychologically.

Dr Awoonor-Williams said mortality rates were four times higher for a pregnant teenager than a woman aged between 25 and 29 years, adding that the unborn child was also at an increased risk.

He stated that teenage pregnancy made it difficult for the teenager to continue with her education and even after birth the young mother found it difficult to interact with her peers where academic performance was concerned.

“Also finding a regular source of income becomes difficult as every job position demands certain skills which are markedly lacking because of not having a proper education,” he stressed.

He said children born to such young parents often displayed retarded psycho-socio development and mal-nutritional effects because the teenage mother lacked the parental skills especially to understand her child’s needs and did not realise the importance of touch and verbal communication with her child.

He said children of teenagers often exhibited certain behavioural tendencies which were deemed socially unacceptable, adding “this is in fact the worse effects of teenage pregnancy”.

“All teenage pregnancies occur out of sexual activity whether voluntarily or involuntarily. No matter what measures are taken for birth control, the 100 per cent effective way to prevent pregnancy is abstinence from sexual activity”, he stressed.

Dr Awoonor-Williams, who attributed the causes of teenage pregnancies to a combination of factors including peer pressure, rebellious behaviour, selfishness and lack of quality parental relationship, called on parents to ensure good parental guidance, sex education and provision of adolescent friendly facilities by government.

The Regional Librarian, Mr John Ayeseya appealed to parents, teachers and opinion leaders to support children to develop the habit of reading.

He entreated school children to study hard and stay away from drugs since it could undermine their studies and health status.

The Upper East Deputy Regional Minister, Mrs Lucy Awuniin a speech read for her, attributed the alling standards of education especially the English Language to lack of reading and stressed the need for students to adequately use the library to improve upon their vocabulary.

She appealed to Municipal and District Assemblies to set aside resources to invest in children’s programmes to ensure that they inculcate in them the understanding of their environment.


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