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Move to cut adolescent pregnancies
In T&T out of every 1,000 births about 43 are adolescent pregnancies, says Kathryn Gilmore, deputy executive programme director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). She made the statement yesterday at a multi-stakeholder high level consultation on the reduction of adolescent pregnancy in the Caribbean at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain.
“Forty-three out of every 1,000 births is by a young woman between 15 and 20. That’s a high rate of adolescent pregnancy when you look at the figures globally and it’s comparable to figures in the poorest countries around the world. “And it’s indicative to a rate of adolescent pregnancy that comes only second to those rates that we see in sub-Saharan Africa,” Gilmore said.
She added that a region like the Caribbean which had developed over the past decade it was difficult to understand how young women could be “left behind in this way.” Asked about T&T’s adolescent pregnancy rate Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan, who delivered the feature address on behalf of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, said the country’s adolescent pregnancy rate had dropped by 17 per cent.
At yesterday’s meeting he said stakeholders also would be introduced to the regional framework to reduce adolescent pregnancy drafted by Caricom’s technical meeting last October. “At this consultation we must all be willing to push the limits of innovation, break down the barriers and unclog the bottlenecks that cause the young to fall away from the mainstream,” Khan said.
Urging the importance of “reproductive education” to be taught in schools Khan said several other factors must be taken into consideration, namely positive parenting skills, strategies for teen pregnancy prevention, information on sexual reproductive health and gender socialisation and changing teenage behaviour in relationships. Legal frameworks at times, he added, posed a major constraint in being able to reach “directly into the heart of the hard issues” and solving problems.
“In light of the recent crimes against children in T&T we make another urgent appeal to all citizens to speak out to break the silence when it comes to the protection of our children. “Where the lives and safety of our children are at stake each and every citizen has a moral obligation and responsibility to inform the relevant authorities,” Khan added.
Executive director of the UNFPA Babatunde Osotimehin, in providing global statistics said motherhood in childhood was a huge problem, especially in developing countries where every year 7.3 million girls under 18 give birth. “In the Caribbean, despite the fall in total fertility rate, adolescent birth rates remain relatively high. “Among girls, aged 15 to 19, the birth rate ranges from 26 to 97 per cent,” Osotimehin added.
He said Guyana, Belize, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda and Suriname have the highest teen pregnancy rates in the Caribbean.
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