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08.09.2005 Regional News

Teenage pregnancy high in Western Region

Teenage pregnancy high in Western Region

Takoradi, Sept. 8, GNA - Dr Sylvester Anemana, Western Regional Director of Health Services said the Western Region has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in Ghana.

He said the teenagers, had the lowest supervised delivery rates in the country.

Dr. Anemana said these at the opening of the 19th annual national conference of the Public Health Nurses' Group (PUBHENG) in Takoradi on Wednesday.

The three-day conference is on the theme, "Adolescent Pregnancy: A Concern for the Public Health Nurse".

He said the increasing cases of teenage pregnancy in the country and other adolescent health problems must be addressed quickly. Dr. Anemana said health professionals must double their efforts and provide improved adolescent reproductive health services in the region. He commended members of the PUBHENG and said their contributions had enabled the Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI) to succeed, while the knowledge of mothers about the uses and value of the Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) had greatly minimised "the presence of severely dehydrated children in our hospitals and clinics".

All these achievements have resulted in a gradual reduction of infant and under five-child mortality, as well as Maternal Mortality Rates (MMR) Dr. Anemana added.

Dr. Mrs. Henrietta Odoi-Agyarko, Deputy Director of Public Health in charge of Family Health said adolescents are aged between 10 to 19 years.

She said 38 per cent of girls and 19.3 per cent of boys are sexually active.

Dr. Mrs Odoi-Agyarko said early births, high abortion rates, low knowledge of sexually transmitted diseases were some of the major challenges facing adolescents nationwide.

She said incomplete body growth could result in problems during pregnancy and delivery among adolescents, whether married or not, while the immature reproductive and immune systems expose young women to HIV infection.

Dr. Odoi-Agyarko advised public health nurses to intensify their campaign on pregnancy prevention, address health and behavioural problems, and give them counselling and a safe environment for adolescent issues.

Mrs Grace Nkrumah-Mills, National Chairperson of PUBHENG said the focus on the adolescents was due to their vital roles in the socio-economic development of the country.

She said their vulnerability and their inexperience in life must be addressed before they ruin their formative years. Mrs Nkrumah-Mills said they wanted to reduce the health and development needs of young people, since they account for 15 per cent of diseases and injury burden.

"They mostly die from preventable causes and this has serious negative effects on the economy of the country," she added.