MANILA, October 11 – To mark the International Day of the Girl today, Save the Children Philippines called for the passage of the Teenage Pregnancy Prevention bill and the full implementation of the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in schools in response to the National Social Emergency declared by National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
Teenage pregnancy affects 5.99 percent of Filipino girls which is the second highest rate in Southeast Asia based on Save the Children’s Global Childhood Report (2019). An estimated 538 babies are born to Filipino teenage mothers every single day, according to Philippine Statistical Authority (2017).
“Early pregnancy forces girls to take on an adult role while their bodies are often not ready,” said Atty. Alberto Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines. “Early pregnancy can also trap girls in an escapable cycle of poverty, stigmatised by society for being teenage mothers or forced into early marriage. It also creates a greater risk in terms of maternal complications that affect the mother and the child they bear resulting in low survival rates.”
There is no single cause for the rising rate of teenage pregnancy, but rather a combination of factors ranging from biological, social, and cultural. These factors includes the following, but are not limited to (1) early sexual debut; (2) lack of access to comprehensive sex information and education; (3) Parents, who are identified by adolescents as one of their preferred source of information on Sexual Reproductive Health information have limited communication skills; (4) lack of access to family planning services; (5) cultural practices of early union; and (6) lack of adolescent sexuality and reproductive health (ASRH) policies and its full-implementation.
To curb the rise in teenage pregnancy cases, Save the Children Philippines called for the enactment of the Teenage Pregnancy Prevention bill, which will ensure the implementation of CSE in schools, training of teachers to deliver CSE, and capacitating parents and carers to communicate sexuality education to their children.
The bill will also ensure the access of pregnant teenagers to social protection programs, and access of adolescents to reproductive health services.
“In addition to education about sexuality, adolescents should also have access to reproductive health services, with proper counseling by trained service providers in public and private facilities,” said Dr. Miel Nora, ASRH Advisor for Save the Children Philippines. “But this is just one part of the solution. It’s also vital that children can safely report cases of alleged abuse or forced marriage with the knowledge that they will be protected. Together, we need to help create a culture where boys and men respect the rights of girls and women.”
The baseline study conducted by Save the Children among very young adolescents (VYAs) in 2017 revealed that VYAs preferred source of information was their mother. However, parents, most especially the mothers in particular, do not have the correct ASRH information to share with their children, or the skills to communicate it. Thus, Save the Children Philippines implemented Healthy, Empowered and Responsible Teens or “Heart to HEART”, a program that builds parents’ skills and enhance parent-VYA communication around gender and ASRH.
“The efforts to combat teenage pregnancy should come from all the sectors of society. It requires a joint effort of government, private sectors, civil society organizations, communities, parents, caregivers and the entire citizenry, including youth themselves,” said Atty. Muyot.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Save the Children supports the effective Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in public and private schools, alternative and indigenous learning centers.
Research has shown that sex education has the most impact when school-based programs are complemented with the involvement of parents and teachers, training institutes and youth-friendly services.
The Department of Education, Department of Health and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) together with other government agencies, civil society organizations and youth groups met recently for the National Summit on Teenage Pregnancy to discuss policies, budgets and programs to reduce adolescent pregnancies in the Philippines. Among the solutions identified include the CSE implementation and increase of the number of adolescent-friendly health centres.
Based on 2017 birth rates more than 400,000 girls aged 15 to 19 will get pregnant in the Philippines this year.
Christelle Lei Tapang | Campaigns and Media Coordinator
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