The Executive Director of the Henry Djaba Memorial Foundation, Dr. Otiko Afisah Djaba has expressed grave concern over the rising cases of teenage pregnancy as Ghana records about 110,000 cases in 2020.
According to some statistics she posted on her Facebook timeline, as many as 107,023 girls between 15 and 19 years of age got pregnant in 2020. In the same year, 2,865 girls between 10 and 14 years also got pregnant (Source: Ghana Health Service, District Health Information Management System).
The Ashanti Region recorded the highest with 17,802, Eastern Region 10,865, Central 10,301, Northern 9,249, Greater Accra 9,018, Western 8,533 and Upper East Region 6,533.
The rest are; Volta Region 6,144, Bono East 5,741, Bono Region 4,478, Oti Region 3,970, North East Region 3,780, Western North 3,750, Upper West 3,583, Savannah region 3,516 and Ahafo Region 2,625.
The renowned gender advocate who was alarmed by the situation and the danger it poses to the development of girls, quizzes, "why children should be getting pregnant?"
Dr. Otiko Afisah Djaba passionately called for public discussion on the best strategies to curb the menace of teenage pregnancy in the country.
"What can we do to reduce teenage pregnancy? These are our future leaders. Why should children be getting pregnant? Who are these unscrupulous men and boys putting our daughters at risk? Why do the girls allow it? Please share your thoughts on strategies to curb teenage pregnancy. This is so serious," she stated.
Meanwhile, more than 95% of these teenage girls with pregnancies drop out of school due to family rejection and stigmatization from school mates.
While some resort to unsafe abortions or end up in early marriages, others also take to the streets to do menial jobs or sleep with unscrupulous men for survival.
As a result, Dr. Otiko Afisah Djaba through her Foundation has established the Henry Djaba Centre for ideas and knowledge at Somanya in the Eastern Region where there is high prevalence of teenage pregnancy.
The Centre is offering free skills training to young girls who are unemployed and are out of school due to early pregnancies.
The girls who are being trained in sewing/fashion designs, hairdressing, bead making, ICT, business management and many others, will receive free working tools and start up capital to establish themselves in business.
This, according to the Executive Director of the Henry Djaba Memorial Foundation is to ensure teenage pregnancy or early child birth did not hinder or become a barrier to the future aspirations and development of girls in the region.
Several Facebook followers of Dr. Otiko Afisah Djaba are responding to her post with different comments and suggestions towards addressing the issue of teenage pregnancy among the adolescent girls.
One of such comments from one Suzy Saka reads: "Many factors bring about this problem which is destroying our teen girls. It will surprise you to know that most of them know what they're doing and understand the consequences. Inadequate provision of their basic needs, ineffective parental control, curiosity, peer pressure, media influence, poverty, poor communication at home, and many more. Most parents are busy trying to make ends meet while their teens are out there doing their own thing, and some think government and schools/teachers are responsible for the moulding and training of their wards. Lot of irresponsible parenting make these girls care the less of their misbehaviour. They're out there roaming at night without fear. There's the need for effective public education, guidance and counselling in our schools and stakeholders consultation. It's really disheartening. Things can change if we play our roles effectively to minimize or end this situation. My view. Thanks".