THE Commission on Population and Development-Davao Region (PopCom-Davao) said that around 11,000 teenagers in the region are expected to give birth before the end of 2020.
PopCom-Davao Director Bai Agnes Sampulna said that as of September 24, an estimated 7,000 young women aged 10 to 19 years old were already recorded to have been pregnant and given birth.
But she said they projected that the figure would reach 11,000 since some cases were not directly recorded due to the imposed strict community quarantine especially during the first and second quarter of the year due to the rising cases of Covid-19.
"We are expecting more because kabalo man ta nga ang uban wala sila manganak sa [hospital and clinical] facility because of Covid. Dili sila kagawas. Ang uban kay dili maadmit [sa mga hospital] tungod naay Covid-19 patients. So expected that by the end of the year, mutaas siya (We are expecting that the figures would further increase since there are young mothers who were not able to give birth in our facilities due to Covid-19 lockdown. They cannot go out. Others are denied admission because there are admitted Covid-19 patients)," Sampulna said.
With this, she said most of the young mothers will deliver their birth at home.
Out of the 7,000, she said Davao City has the most number of recorded pregnancies with 2,235. The youngest, she said, is 10 years old.
Although she said the projected data is a "slight decrease" from 2019's 14,200 total recorded live birth.
Among the leading factors, Sampulna cited for the surge of teenage pregnancies is due to a lack of proper information and education about sexual health and reproductive health.
Another factor is inadequate access to services reproductive health and other family planning.
"Bata pa sila, pero they are encouraged na maging sexually active kay kulang ilang information and education (At a young age, they already encounter circumstances that made them sexually active due to misinformation and lack of education)," Sampulna said.
She also said some teenagers are currently under a "live-in" setup with their partner.
"Mga live-in mana usually, mga bata. Since naa raman sila sa balay tungod sa lockdown (Most of these teens are in a live-in setting. When the lockdown was imposed most of them are at home), so what are they going to do?," Sampulna said.
She also said that family and social pressure due to social media and sexual violence is also one of the alarming factors for the surge of teen pregnancy. She added that some of the cases are due to rape and other sexual assault. Most of the perpetrators, she said, are older men.
To address this problem, Sampulna said they are strengthening their campaign for responsible parenthood.
She said PopCom is currently spearheading the Parents Education on Sexuality and Gender Development campaign to educate parents on sexual and reproductive health since there is no face-to-face classroom set up for students and physical orientation and symposium are currently discouraged due to the continuing threat of Covid-19.
"We educate the parents on what to do with their adolescent children," she said.
She emphasized the important role of parents in guiding their children to avoid unwanted pregnancy due to wrong choices and misinformation.
She also said fathers are also involved in this campaign because it is mostly mothers who attend these kinds of seminars.
Currently, there is the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 or the Reproductive Health (RH) Law, which guarantees universal access to methods on contraception, fertility control, sexual education, and maternal care.
Sampulna said there is a need to improve accessibility for these services, wherein the support of the local government unit, especially in the creation of more health centers, is needed.