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UW: DBI records 556 teenage pregnancies in 3 years

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The Diaffiama-Bussie-Issa (DBI) District Director of Health Services, Emmanuel Sanwouk has lamented about the continuous rise in the number of cases of teenage pregnancies in the district.

Mr. Sanwouk mentioned that the per the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) standard, teenage should make up less than 5 percent of total Antenatal Care (ANC) for each year under review.

The DBI district has however, failed to meet this standard and continues to record a year by year increase in teenage pregnancies.

Speaking to GBC’s Mark Smith, Mr. Sanwouk disclosed that in 2016, a total of 160 teenage pregnancies were recorded representing 12.1 percent of ANCs recorded that year.

In 2017, the District recorded 187 teenage pregnancies of girls aged 15-19 years and 1 pregnancy for the 10 to 14-year bracket representing 14 percent of the total ANCs recorded that year.

In 2018, the numbers shot up to 204 pregnancies for girls aged 15-19 and 4 pregnancies for the age 10 to 14-year bracket bringing the total number to 208 total teenage pregnancies last year.

The figure translates into 13 percent of total ANCs recorded last year.

Mr Sanwouk who was not happy about the situation said the Ghana Health Service (GHS considers the age brackets of 10-14 and 15-19 as the “at risk population” because of the many health implications of such pregnancies”.

He said due to the under-development of the birth canal, many a time teenagers had to be operated on during delivery.

He also cited psychological distress as things that affected young mothers.

The DBI District Director for Health Services, Emmanuel Sanwouk singled out Child marriage as the most prevalent cause of teenage pregnancies in the district.

Mr. Sanwouk mentioned misinformation on the part of pregnant women to National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) officials as another reason for the high records of teenage pregnancies.

He explained that per policies being implemented by the Ghana Health Service (GHS), if a woman was confirmed to be pregnant, it was required that she subscribed to the NHIS and attend ANC free of charge.

However, if the woman in question was above 18 years, she was required to pay for subscription unto the service.

Mr. Sanwouk added that some women who could pass as teenagers, may deliberately misinform the NHIA officials to escape subscription fees.

He was however, quick to add that some women did not know their real ages, thus the misinformation.

Touching on Family Planning (FP), Mr Sanwouk noted that as of last year, about 50 percent of the entire district population had access to family planning services.

He said the District has enough FP devices and qualified personnel spread evenly across CHPS compounds and health centres in the district stressing that “for access we do not have a problem”.

The DBI District Director for Health Services, Emmanuel Sanwouk said the uptake of FP services by community members despite the continuous sensitization could be blamed on some entrenched traditional beliefs.

He said the District Directorate had to continually deal with thoughts from the various communities that say that the youth’s interest in Family Planning is to acquire a license to be have sex.

Mr. Sanwouk explained that the Directorate continues to offer the services to interested persons saying: “We have found a way to offer the services to people whether the [person’s] relatives accept it or not”. “It is a right to the person who needs it he,” he stressed.

Mr. Sanwouk explained that the issue of teenage pregnancy is a multi-faceted one that goes beyond the health sector and translates into a development issue.

He called for a multi-sectorial approach in reducing teenage pregnancies across the district.

Story by Mark Smith 

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