More than 16million adolescent girls aged between 25 and 19 become mothers every year with almost 40 percent of them acquiring new HIV infections each day, statistics by the United Nation Population Funds (UNFPA) has revealed.
According to the statistics complications from pregnancy and child birth are leading cause of death among girls in this age group, especially in developing countries.
The Acting Central Regional Population Officer, Mr. John Kisseh Tetteh who said this on Thursday, expressed worry that adolescent pregnancy had become one of the biggest challenges in the country because of its socio-economic impact on development and needed urgent attention.
He was addressing a forum organized by the National Population Council in Cape Coast on the theme “Adolescent pregnancy and abortion and their effects on the Adolescents Development”.
The forum aimed at creating opportunities for youth groups and stakeholders to discuss the issue on adolescents’ development.
He said adolescent pregnancy had huge implication on their future development since most of the young girls who became pregnant dropped out of school thereby ending their education which offered a way out of poverty and deprivation.
Mr. Paul Tagoe, who is also the Project Officer for the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), said unplanned pregnancy led to many challenges that ultimately affected the nation.
He attributed the causes of teenage pregnancy to child neglect on the part of some parents, peer pressure and broken homes and advice the youth to check their HIV status every three months.
On abortion, Mr. Tagoe said it was illegal according to the Criminal Code but the law may permitted it in the event of rape, incest, defilement and in cases where the pregnancy might harm the mental stability of the mother or woman or there would be a gross fetus abnormality.
Mr Tagoe said his outfit’s vision was to have a better quality of life for the people of Ghana through effective population management through maintenance of a population growth that was consistent with sustainable economic growth and would continue to partner and work with relevant stakeholders to help tackle pressing population issues.
Mrs. Christiana Bachman, the Director of Community Sensitization Awareness Creation, a counseling agency based in Cape Coast, said parenting had become a bigger task since the era where it was the responsibility of every grownup person to ensure the sound upbringing of children was past
She appealed to all stakeholders to tackle the issue of teenage sex and unsafe abortion with all seriousness that it deserved and asked that bylaws were enacted to punish men who impregnate teenage girls.
Mrs. Bachman said the District Education Oversight Committee of the Cape Coast Metropolitan Assembly had instituted education programmes to inform parents and community leaders on the dangers of teenage pregnancy, abortion and the need to educate the girl-child. GNA