Shocking report from an assessment survey on contributing factors to teenage pregnancy, reveal that 86.4% of teenage pregnancy during the time of the survey, was fostered by older men.
This was revealed yesterday at the Atlantic Hall, National Stadium as the National Secretariat for the Reduction of Teenage Pregnancy in collaboration with other health partners unveiled the assessment and contributing factors to teenage pregnancy in Sierra Leone.
Supported by Plan International, Save the Children, and Voluntary Services Overseas, Religious Leaders, Government Officials and a cross-section of school children had an interesting time with shocking revelations on the contributing factors of teenage pregnancy, while Shirley Nallo of Nest Builders International made a detailed presentation of findings of the assessment.
Formally unveiling the report, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Sarian Kamara paid tribute to all those who worked hard to produce the report, especially in conducting the survey’s and interviews.
She stated that teenage pregnancy is among the most pervasive problem affecting the health, social, economic and political progress and the empowerment of young women and girls in Sierra Leone.
Dr Kamara noted that teenage pregnancy also impacts education, and thus contributes to poverty, both in turn impacting on health and continuing a vicious cycle.
She added that the findings of the report will provide key information and recommendations to direct efforts and measure improvements.
Deputy Minister Social Welfare, Neneh Turay said teenage pregnancy even before the ebola period is on the increase and associated with several social vices including early child marriage as well as other harmful traditional practices, and because the girls are too young to get pregnant, majority of the maternal deaths are attributed to teenage pregnancy, which is about 40%.
She said it was good that effective collaboration was involved for the survey to address an unfortunate issue, which will be useful in the implementation of the strategy by line ministries, UN Agencies, NGO’s, Private Sector, Traditional and Religious Leaders.
Madam Turay noted that teenage pregnancy and its related social, economic and health issues have become an affront to the overall development and empowerment of women and girls, which should be the collective responsibility from all to fight against teenage pregnancy at all levels, including the teenagers themselves.
Secretary-General for Inter- Religious Council, Rev. Dr Osman Fornah, stated that this is not the first time the council is involving in an issue which is of national concern, and involves the health and development of the Country’s bulk population.
He said both Christian and Muslim communities are very concerned over the high rate of teenage pregnancy in society, as a result of several factors, but poverty and rape is the most common factor.
Rev. Dr Fornah in a disappointed mood added that the laws are there, but asked why enforcing the law should be a big challenge, especially early marriage and the issue of compromise among families of a survivor and the perpetrator, regarding rape, he asked?
A representative from the UN Family commended the high level of engagement of Government officials, which is a sign of commitment to improving the welfare of girls and reduce teenage pregnancy, to give them an opportunity to a better life.
She called on all to continue to work as a team to invest in girl’s development, and encouraged that sex education be increased in homes and schools, noting that the report shows that there is low level of knowledge about reproductive health, among teenagers, which is partly responsible for high teenage pregnancy in the country.