The Chief Executive Officer of National Youth Authority (NYA) Mr. Pius Enam Hadzide, has revealed that according to District Health Information Management System (DHIMS) reports suggests that on average, 112,800 teenage girls get pregnant every year.
According to him, the figures from (DHIMS) of the Ghana Health Service also suggests that 109, 888 teenage pregnancies were recorded in 2020 alone. Of this number, 2, 865 pregnancies were from girls aged between 10 and 14 years, below the age of statutory consent.
Mr. Pius Enam Hadzide made this observation at stakeholders Consultative Meeting on Reproductive Health Education for Out of School Young People in Ghana, organized by National Youth Authority (NYA) held at Crystal Palm Hotel in Accra.
He indicated that concerning rate of teenage pregnancies has played out against an equally troubling rate of HIV/AIDS prevalence. “The Director General of the Ghana AIDS Commission revealed last month that 18, 928 new HIV infections were recorded in 2020. These new infections join an existing 342, 307 number of People Living with HIV.”
For him, these figures justify the need for the provision of Comprehensive SRHE to the youth. Whereas there remain gaps in the provision of Comprehensive SRHE in Ghanaian Schools, extant research has shown a relationship between schooling and safer sexual behaviours.
This is because school provides a stable and credible environment where the same group of young people are taught and have their questions and concerns about Sexual and Reproductive Health addressed over a period of time. In contrast, out of school youth are prone to misinformation from unreliable sources or may not learn about these issues at all.
“It is not surprising, therefore, that the Ghana Health and Demographic Survey 2014 reports that people with no education are likelier to have an early age of first sexual encounters compared to those with some level of education. Additionally, the survey showed increasing HIV/AIDS awareness and knowledge the higher educational attainment a respondent had,” he noted.
Mr. Enam Hadzide’s welcome remarks stressed that the effects of a dearth of SRHE are all too well-known. For underage teenage girls, pregnancy carries heightened risks of premature labour, spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, the development of fistulas and they are more likely to suffer maternal mortality.
Beyond the immediate health risks, he said there are social and economic implications for teenagers who successfully carry the pregnancy to term. The teenage parents, especially the girl, may be withdrawn from school thus losing out on the training needed to be financially secure in the future. Effectively, a cycle of poverty emerges which leaves the baby predisposed to suffer the same circumstances their parents did in future.
He furthered that the consequences of unemployment for out-of-school youth may result in them taking to the streets where they are exposed to experimenting risky behaviours such as alcohol and drug abuse.
Other street kids may partake in sex work. All these behaviours increase the likelihood of sexual abuse and unsafe sexual behaviours which make them vulnerable to STIs and HIV/AIDS infections as well as unwanted pregnancies.
He said the foregoing confirms that if we are keen on realising the industrialisation vision of our country and the attendant improvement in the economic, social and cultural development of the youth, it is imperative to ensure equal access to Comprehensive SRHE to the youth, especially to those at risk such as out-of-school youth.
Report By Bernard K DADZIE