“MORE than a quarter of the world’s population is between the ages of 10 and 24, with 86 percent living in less developed countries. The reproductive and sexual health decisions they make today will affect the health and well-being of their communities and of their countries for decades to come,” an article in a website, Open University, stated amid the national concern regarding the issue of teenage pregnancies.
The same website underlined two issues that have a profound impact on young people’s sexual health and reproductive lives, family planning and HIV/AIDS.
“Teenage girls are more likely to die from pregnancy-related health complications than older women in their 20s,” it explained. According to its statistical record, one-half of all new HIV infections worldwide occur among young people aged 15 to 24. The study and research added that babies born to adolescent mothers have a high risk of being underweight or being still born. They are also likely to suffer from the same social and economic disadvantages encountered by their mothers.
World Health Organization (WHO) stated that pregnancy during adolescence is associated with higher risk of health problem like anemia, sexually transmitted infection, unsafe abortion, postpartum hemorrhage and mental disorder like depression. “Pregnant adolescents also bear negative social consequences and often have to leave school reducing their chances of being employed, leading to long-term economic implications.”
Since young people will be the future leaders of a country, Open University suggests the following: Information and counseling on sexual and reproductive issues; Promotion of healthy sexual behavior; Family planning and information of the different methods of contraception; Condom promotion and provision among others.
According to the Commission on Population, there are already more than 198,000 adolescent pregnancies in the Philippines. To address the issue, Sen. Risa Hontiveros sponsored Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Act (Senate Bill 1888). Hontiveros cited a 2013 study on Adult Fertility and Sexuality which showed that 23 percent of Filipino youth were having sex before the age of 18. Aimed at preventing the incidence of teenage pregnancies, the bill provides for the integration of programs in the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) in the local and community level using 10 percent of the SK funds.
This should serve as a reminder to the SK to concentrate more on this national social emergency instead of political positioning.