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National Adolescent Health Advocacy week which seeks to highlight many challenges and opportunities facing young people in Ghana has been launched in Techiman in the Brong Ahafo Region under the theme, “Preventing Adolescence Pregnancy in Ghana, a shared responsibility”.

The launch also seeks to assess what was being done to address their specific adolescent sexual and reproductive health needs of the youth.

Dr. Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyera, the Acting Director General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in his welcome address said findings on the status of adolescent pregnancy in the 2014 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey indicate a cause for concern.

He observed that although the country recorded a decline in the rate of Adolescent Pregnancy from 12.3% in 2013 to 12.1% in 2014, there still remain pockets of high prevalence in some districts across the country.

Techiman Municipal, Kintampo North Municipal and Pru District were some of the districts cited of increasing teenage pregnancies rate in the Region.

Records from the Techiman Municipal Health Directorate indicate that in 2012, a total of 1,284 teenage pregnancies between the ages of 15-19 were recorded. Between the ages 10-14 in 2012, a total of 67 teenage pregnancies were also recorded. The trend of teenage pregnancies reduced to 1,253 in 2013. A total of 47 teenage pregnancies between the ages of 10-14 were also recorded in 2013.

However, Dr. Damien Punguyire the Techiman Municipal Health Director in an interview said the teenage pregnancies trend in the Municipality has increased from 1253 in 2013 to 1275 in 2014 for those between the ages of 15-19. A total of 64 teenage pregnancies were also recorded for 2014 for those between the ages of 10-14.

The Municipal Health Director added that in 2014, a total of 6086 pregnancies were recorded, out of which 1339, representing 22% of the total pregnancies.

Dr. Appiah-Denkyera dilated on the effects of adolescent pregnancy and that it presents developmental challenges to the victims. He noted that physiologically, the changes of pregnancy are superimposed on those of pubescence. He added that psychologically and intellectually, the pregnant adolescent was still developing, and it was thus difficult for them to meet the physiological demands of pregnancy.

Economically, Dr. Appiah-Denkyera noted that the high social and economic cost of adolescent pregnancy and child bearing to the community and the nation at large cannot be overemphasized.

On adolescent childbearing he said it contributes significantly to rapid population growth with its associated developmental challenges in the face of scarce resource.

Socially, he said the relationship between parents/guardians and adolescents play a critical role in their socialization. He noted that negative parenting, lack of communication and supervision contributes to early initiation of sexual activity among adolescents.

Touching on the theme of the launch, “Preventing Adolescence Pregnancy in Ghana, a shared responsibility”, the Acting Director-General called on parents and all stakeholders especially, the gatekeepers such as traditional and religious leaders to strongly influence the choices of adolescents through positive role modeling and laying strong emphasis on the positive social norms and values of the Ghanaian society which were protective factors with respect to the prevention of adolescent pregnancy.

To curb the increasing rate of adolescent pregnancies, the Acting Director-General noted that the Health Sector has developed comprehensive interventions programmes which include the Adolescent Friendly Corners and Health facilities initiative, the adolescent health clubs and outreach programmes to high burden communities with the support of health partners such as DFID, UNFPA, Palladium Group and Marie Stopes International Ghana. “We are positive that these proven interventions will yield the desirable outcomes we are envisaging”, he noted.

“This year’s Adolescent Health Advocacy week launch serves as a reminder to the Ministry of Youth and Sports and National Youth Authority to work towards a qualitative youth population who are empowered to contribute as productive forces and responsible future adults in a healthy environment of the family and nation”, he said.

Mr. Phillip Oppong Amponsah, the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Techiman in his speech on behalf of the Brong Ahafo Region, Mr. Eric Opoku noted that the young people require useful information and education on reproductive health care to cater for their expectations and needs to facilitate their smooth growth and integration in the society.

Mr. Donald Dickson, the Project Director of Ghana Adolescent Reproductive Health (GHARH) project in his statement said the programme was being promoted in dealing with the challenges, one of which was to prevent teenage pregnancy. He noted that investing in the sexual and reproductive health of the adolescents has the multiplier effect of shaping, developing and empowering the youth. He added that GHARH project was working closely with Regional Director of Health and the District Health Management Teams to strengthen the provision of counseling and Family Planning services for young people. He called for collective effort among all stakeholders to accelerate and consolidate the gains made.

Ms. Kate Opoku, the Director of School Health Education Programme (SHEP) unit at the Ghana Education Service (GES) headquarters, said to mitigate the challenges at the period of adolescence, the GES has integrated adolescent reproductive health issues across several subjects in the basic and secondary school curriculum. This she noted was to cope with the changes children need to acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes that will enable them deal with themselves to promote healthy living and responsible adulthood.

Ms. Kate added that as part of efforts to improve life skills and behaviour change among adolescents through the GHARH project, manuals has been developed to address Adolescent and Sexual Reproductive Health (ASRH) issues in schools. “We have also seen how our values help us to stay away from indulging in risky behaviors.

As a result values and psychosocial skills are integrated to enable individuals get along with other people and deal effectively with pressures, demands and challenges of everyday life”, she emphasized.

Nana Amponsah Baaku, the Nkosourhemaa of the Techiman Traditional Area who chaired the occasion called on the stakeholders especially, the Techiman Municipal Assembly, civil society organizations and Ghana’s development partners to put in place measures to curb the increasing rate of adolescent pregnancies in the Municipality.

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