STILL faced with the problem of teenage pregnancy, the Commission on Population (Popcom) said Sunday that there may already be a need to pass a law that specifically aims to address teenage pregnancy, particularly the Adolescent Health Act.

According to Popcom Executive Director Dr. Juan Antonio Perez III, having the Reproductive Health (RH) Law may not be adequate to address the growing problem of teenage pregnancy in the country.

“We are starting to gather our evidences to push for a law that will help adolescents and their parents gain better access to information and services on adolescent health and youth development,” said Perez.

It was back in December 2012 when then-President Benigno Aquino III passed the RH Law.

Such a move was ably supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), who said the problem of teenage pregnancy has grown to become more than a simple health issue.

“We need to realize that teen pregnancy is not just a health issue. When a girl gets pregnant, her health, education, and relationships with her family and community all get entangled in a life-changing roller-coaster,” said UNFPA Country Representative Klaus Beck.

Citing a recent study of the UNFPA, as much as P83,000 a year is being lost by a teenage girl, who gets pregnant and does not finish high school.

“A teenage girl, who gets pregnant and does not finish high school, may potentially lose earnings up to P83,000 a year when she gets paid for work at age 20,” said the UNFPA.

It noted how this is about 87 percent of the potential annual income of a 20-year-old woman, who completed her high school education and did not get pregnant in her teenage years.

The study showed that being able to complete high school education increases daily wage rates of women by P300.

“At age 20, a girl who began childbearing before age 18 may only earn about P46 a day, compared to the P361 per day estimate for someone who completed high school and did not get pregnant early,” said UNFPA.

Also, based on the 2012 and 2013 data of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the UNFPA study indicated that 72 percent of women aged 18 to 19 years are expected to complete high school if they did not begin childbearing before age 18.

On the other hand, the predicted completion rate for teens, who began childbearing early, is lower at only 65 percent, said the study. (HDT/Sunnex)