Teenage pregnancy has significantly dropped in four districts in the Western Region after the effective implementation of targeted interventions by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The districts are Wassa East, Wassa Amanfi East, Nzema East and Ahanta West, which have been adopted by the UNFPA following the 2017 Maternal Health Survey’s rating of the Western Region as the highest in terms of teenage pregnancy, with high burden in these four localities.
To address the problem, the GHS, in partnership with the UNFPA in May 2019 initiated a project for Adolescent Health and Development (AHD) Programme in the region with a key focus on the four districts.
Mrs Sandra Kuntu-Anaman, the Deputy Regional Focal Person for Adolescent Health and Development Programme, Ghana Health Service, at a routine field monitoring of the UNFPA to the project sites, confirmed that there has been a significant drop in the current rate of teenage pregnancies, as well an improvement in the re-entry of teenage mothers into school.
She said the burden, which was highest (17.8 per cent) in the Ahanta West District among the four selected localities in 2017, dropped to 17.2 per cent in 2018, and subsequently to 16.9 per cent by mid-year in 2019, due to various interventions, saying with more education and retraining of health personnel, the problem could reduce further.
She attributed the current successes to the use of Social and Behavioral Change Communication (SBCC) tools to effect change in especially the youth, through the health clubs in Junior and Senior High Schools, and at the community levels, to provide key Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) information to various age groupings between ages 10 and 14, and 15 to 19 years, respectively.
She said patrons of the school health clubs, often met twice in a month separately with pupils and parents, during their Parent-Teacher Association meetings, to share information on a wide range of health issues such as hygiene, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), teenage pregnancy, family planning, peer pressure and other negative morals of children, especially adolescents.
However, the major challenge remains the fact that many parents still feel shy to openly talk or discuss issues about sex and sexuality with their adolescent children, but then the education being shared with pupils and the communities, was making positive impact on perceptions, and that more pregnant girls and teenage mothers are getting empowered to return to school after, or while still nursing their babies.
Some teenage mothers at the Essamang Basic and Junior High School (JHS) near Daboase in the Wassa West District, in an interview with the GNA, said “we will not allow our future to be destroyed because we got pregnant while in school, but we will pursue our education with all seriousness in order to attain our certificates”.
The girls thanked government and Ghana Education Service for instituting policy guidelines for gender equality in education and also on pregnancy and schooling which gives second and equal chances to females to develop their potentials to curb the cycle of poverty.
“We have been receiving great support from all angles, including the headteacher, staff and our classmates,” they said, adding that and although they face harassments of various kinds including teasing by some of their classmates, they would not be discouraged or give up on their education.
Click on the comment box below and leave us your thoughts. Thank you.