Social Issues

UN says it’s concerned over Philippines teenage pregnancy spike

Bangkok, Feb 7 (EFE).- The United Nations Population Fund said Wednesday it is concerned about the increasing number of pregnancies among girls under 15 in the Philippines and called on the country’s authorities to address the matter.

The fund spoke following a report from the Philippine Commission on Population and Development, which showed a jump of 35.13 percent in the number of births of children to girls under 15, which went from 2,320 in 2021 to 3,135 in 2022.

“The United Nations Population Fund expresses deep concern and echoes calls for immediate action,” the statement said.

It said the data shows a worrying trend seen before the Covid-19 pandemic and spoke of an “underlying and pervasive issue – that adolescents are unable to realize their full sexual and reproductive health and rights.”

“We already know that young mothers and their children face high risks of health complications – from severe neonatal conditions to preventable maternal deaths,” the agency said. “Using data from the Civil Registration and Vital Statistics, pregnancies among the 10 to 14 age group have a higher probability of maternal mortality.”

Lisa Grace Bersales, the commission’s executive director, called Monday on greater surveillance of teenage pregnancies and said the state agency is closely monitoring the drastic rise in numbers.

“Although births among teenage girls aged 14 and under represent only 0.22 percent of total registered live births, the CPD is still deeply concerned about the rise in teenage pregnancy, especially among our very young girls,” Bersales said in a statement.

The director also said she urged the Philippines to prioritize the approval of a bill – currently pending in the House of Representatives – that seeks to stop the escalation of pregnancies, births and motherhood among adolescents through a series of national policies.

The fund said it supported the regulations and spoke of addressing issues to safeguard the well-being of adolescents through measures that protect their rights.

The Philippines is among the countries in Asia with the highest birth rates – 2.9 births per woman – with a special incidence of teenage pregnancies, a social problem that the government called a “national emergency” in 2019. EFE

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