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15.07.2005 Health

Teenage pregnancies on the increase - UNFPA Official

By GNA

Accra, July 15, GNA - About 70,000 adolescents in Ghana are expected to have children by the end of 2005, considering the current trend of high rate of teenage pregnancies, Mr Brendan F. O'Brien, Chief Strategic Planning Officer at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said on Friday.

Mr O'Brien, who is on a visit to Ghana, said at a press conference in Accra that though the UNFPA Office in the country had been working hard towards Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH), his visit could give a new dimension to efforts to bring down the number. Mr O'Brien, who is based in New York, is on a working visit to the offer other strategic planning services to his counterparts in Ghana to enhance their work.

He said he would like to create a forum during his stay with stakeholders to dialogue on critical issues on the ground in respect to ASRH and come out with appropriate strategies to handle the situation. Mr O'Brien stated that the high rate of mortality among adolescents due to pregnancy related complications and poor obstetric care needed urgent attention, as the number continued to rise.

He attributed the causes of the problems to ignorance on the part of these women, cultural practice that encouraged early marriages and other societal beliefs.

Mr O'Brien noted that a large proportion of unwanted pregnancies, which resulted in unsafe abortions was due to fear, as these women tried to solve their own problems in one way or the other.

"The fear of stigmatisation often leads many women to attempt aborting a pregnancy through various ways which could lead to death." Mr O'Brien said since the problem with ASRH was too great a challenge for government alone to deal with, it was important to actively involve other key players such as traditional leaders, to reconsider certain traditional practices, which negatively affected the development of adolescents, especially women.

"Legislations may exist, but they must reflect the true beliefs of the people, otherwise they may not be implemented."

Mr Makane Kane, UNFPA Country Representative, said Mr O'Brien's visit would give a new dimension to efforts and strategies towards ensuring maximum security for adolescents through education, quality health care and good nutrition.

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