Did you ever get pregnant or impregnate someone as a teenager? If yes, then you are not alone.
Approximately 16 million adolescent girls worldwide aged 15-19 give birth each year, constituting about 11percent of all birth worldwide.
In Ghana, adolescent pregnancy is a real concern, especially as many girls who fall victim are not married. Even when they are married, giving birth in their mid teens deprive them of valuable schooling days.
“I am minded of the statistics that every day 20,000 girls, under the age of 18, give birth in the developing world,” said Samira Bawumia, Ghana’s second lady in Accra on 12October, 2018. “At the same time, every year, about three million girls aged 15 to 19 resort to unsafe abortions, risking their lives and health.”
“According to the United Nations, this year alone, 21 million girls, aged 15 to 19 years, are likely to become pregnant in developing regions,” shewas further lquoted by mogcsp.gov.gh as saying at the launch of the five-year strategic plan to address adolescent pregnancy by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection in Accra.
Villagers who move from their towns to resettle in the urban areasto seek non-existent jobs to get access to resources are typical victims. In Accra, for example, these girls work as head porters, popularly called kayayei.
Lack of parental control, broken homes greediness, lust for material things, peerpressure, lack of sex education and rural urban driftare major push factors for adolescents coming from broken homes. When teenagers do not get access to parental care, it becomes difficult to train them.
In finding various means for survival,which involve dating men for favours, pregnancy may set in.
Presenting areport on mapping interventions of teenage pregnancy in Ghana,Nana Oye Lithur, former Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection,advocated the need for increased collaboration betweendevelopment partners, the Government and NGOs to bridge the existing gaps in current programming aimed at addressing this problem.
Teenagers face many of the same pregnancy related issues as other women but the additional concerns for persons aged 13-17 is that they are less physically developed to sustain a healthy pregnancy. Hence they may give birth with risk factors such as low birth weight, pre-term labour, anaemia, and pre-eclampsia. These associated risks are commonly connected to biological age, and is observed in teen births after controlling for other risk factors such as accessing prenatal care.
However, in poor communities, early pregnancy may combine with malnutrition and poor health care to cause medical problems. Also, a pregnant teen feeling frightened and worried about telling their parents or friends, and not asking anyone for help and support may feel depressed and isolated which can lead to problems. Many pregnant teens drop out of school and some never complete their schooling. This means a lot of mothers who get pregnant as teenagers live in poverty.
If poverty is our number one enemy, then those with teenage pregnancy issues – both male and female – need help rather than scorn.
By Sharon Otoo Ansah
Ghana Institute Of Journalism