The Wa East District has recorded a total of 1,405 teenage pregnancies in 3 years.
In 2017, the district registered 500 teenage pregnancies. In 2018, the district again recorded 493 pregnancies with the cases reaching 412 so far this year.
Speaking at a Meet the Press Series at Funsi in the Wa East District, the District Director of Health Services for Wa East, Rukaya Wumnaya, said the directorate is doing the best it can to manage the situation given the limited resources at its disposal.
The Meet the Press Series is to allow the various Municpal and District Assemblies in Upper West the opportunity to communicate their development plans to its people through the media.
The event at Funsi was the 7th in the series.
Madam Wumnaya mentioned the lack of social centres in the district, early marriages and school dropouts by teenage girls as some of the major factors leading to early pregnancies.
The District Director of Health Services was however quick to add that in some cases although classified as teenage pregnancies, the girls were between 18 and 19 years and were legally married.
She added that there are also situations where the girls while registering for their National Health Insurance Scheme, (NHIS) card, do not know their ages and are therefore given ages that might fit their appearance saying “sometimes they [the girls] look smallish but they are old in bones and they [NHIS attendants] will just give them any age and when they come [to the health facilities for treatment] you have to use that age”.
Madam Wumnaya expressed worry about the health complications such girls face, saying because their reproductive organs are not fully developed, they need to be under strict observation by experienced health professionals.
She said this however, is difficult because the district has no District Hospital or Polyclinic.
Madam Wumnaya said in most cases the young girls had to be transported over 100 kilometers to other bigger health facilities like the Nadowli District Hospital, the Tumu Municipal Hospital or the Upper West Regional Hospital.
She said it is even more difficult transporting patients because of the lack of an ambulance coupled with the bumpy nature of the roads.
The District Director of Health Services also disclosed that the entire district has just one Physician Assistant making access to services by health professionals difficult for people resident in Wa East.
Madam Wumnaya commended Plan International Ghana for the establishment of an Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health Corner (ASRHC) in Funsi, the district capital.
Speaking to GBC’s Mark Smith, the District Development Coordinator who doubles as the Focal Point Health Person for the Upper West Region, Plan International Ghana, David Amanor said the basic aim of the centre is to “empower girls to make informed Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health (ASRH) choices”.
Mr. Amanor said playing and learning materials had been provided at the centre to encourage more adolescents to visit the facility.
To ensure that the young people who visit the facility have access to proper health care and advice on ASRH, five people have been trained to give expert advice.
Mr. Amanor disclosed that Plan International Ghana has plans to build other ASRHCs in Buffiama, Kundungu, Ducie, Motigu; all in the Wa East District.
Plan International Ghana tasked the Wa East Health Directorate to ensure that the facility is used for the intended purpose.
It also urged the Health Directorate to maintain the facility properly to ensure its longevity.
Story filed by Mark Smith