Rising teenage pregnancies a concern

Rising teenage pregnancies a concern
Photo credit to Aninag Productions

AS MORE young women in the region are entering motherhood at an early age, the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) is urging local government units to establish their own local adolescents and teen centers as an intervention to teenage pregnancy.

Maria Lourdes Garillos, CPD population program officer, said this initiative aims to address the pressing issue of teenage pregnancies and provide necessary support and interventions to vulnerable adolescents.

CPD is the agency formerly known as Popcom.

Earlier, a SunStar report revealed there were a total of 11,686 cases of teenage pregnancies across seven highly urbanized cities and provinces in Central Visayas in 2022, marking a 7.4 percent increase from the 10,881 recorded cases in 2021.

In Central Visayas, there were 11,445 cases of early pregnancy among women aged 15 to 19 years old, and 241 cases among those under 15 years old. In 2021, there were 10,717 cases and 164 cases in these categories, respectively.

In 2022, Cebu Province had the most teenage pregnancy cases in the region, with 5,106 cases. Negros Oriental followed with 2,364 cases, Bohol with 1,625 cases, and Cebu City with 1,504 cases. Lapu-Lapu City had 586 teenage pregnancies, Mandaue City had 475 cases, and Siguijor had 116 cases.

Garillos said in an interview last Feb. 20, this trend emphasizes the immediate necessity for proactive measures to empower and educate adolescents on reproductive health and family planning.

She said establishing local adolescents and teen centers is crucial for mitigating the factors contributing to teenage pregnancy.

The centers will provide adolescents with comprehensive sexuality education, counseling services, and reproductive health information in safe spaces.

Garillo added that government agencies, community organizations, and stakeholders must collaborate to empower adolescents with the necessary knowledge and resources for making informed decisions regarding their sexual and reproductive health.

She emphasized that establishing these adolescents and teen centers in localities will ensure that youth, including those not attending school, receive proper sex education.

“It needs to involve not just students but also local government units within communities,” she said.

She added that these topics should also be addressed at home, emphasizing the importance of parents being aware of them to facilitate such discussions.

Garillos linked the increase in teenage pregnancies to restricted access to health and family planning services, exacerbated by Covid-19 lockdowns.

She added that the pandemic forced program shifts online, hindering mobility. Additionally, Garillos echoed concerns about gender-based violence, including child sexual abuse and rape, as underlying causes of early pregnancies.

Last Feb. 7, Cebu City Councilor Jose Lorenzo Abellanosa proposed a resolution in the council, urging the City Government to establish a teenage counseling center or help desk to serve as a referral facility for teenage mothers and their babies.

In his proposal, Abellanosa said CPD flagged two barangays in Cebu City as “areas of concern” due to their high teenage pregnancy rates.

Last July, SunStar Cebu reported that barangays Mambaling and Inayawan in the south district of Cebu City recorded the highest number of teenage pregnancies in Central Visayas, logging at least 85 cases in each barangay in 2022. / KJF


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