Bogotá, September 19, 2022. WHO/PAHO Colombia representative, Gina Tambini, participates in the opening of the Andean Week for the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy, a meeting that brings together Andean countries every year to raise awareness of unplanned teenage pregnancy and raise it as a public issue health, which requires the commitment and action of different sectors.
According to the WHO, about 16 million girls and adolescents in the world give birth each year. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the estimated number of unintended pregnancies among girls between the ages of 15 and 19 in 2019 was 2,115,000.
Between 2015 and 2020, the specific fertility rate for adolescents aged 15-19 fell by 7.47%, from 65.6 to 60.7. However, there are still significant differences between subregions, between countries and within countries due to inequality in adolescents’ access to sexual and reproductive health services, a situation of inequality that is likely to have worsened as a result of the pandemic.
“This year’s celebration invites us to reflect on teenage pregnancy, its determinants, causes, consequences, its link to gender-based violence, and to commit to impactful action to end violence against girls and unwanted teenage pregnancy. “, emphasized Representative Tambini.
Latin America and the Caribbean is the only region in the world with an upward trend in the number of births among girls under the age of 15: most of the countries with data on very early pregnancy report between 1 and 5 births for every 1,000 girls or adolescents of the age 10 to 14 year old group.
Teenage pregnancy is a complex situation that affects the health of girls and their children, their psychological and social development, their educational and employment opportunities, and contributes to the perpetuation of intergenerational cycles of poverty.
During pregnancy and childbirth, adolescents and their babies face complications that increase the risks of maternal mortality, perinatal mortality, risks of low birth weight, infant mortality, and more.
Girls and adolescents who are pregnant or mothers are forced to end certain stages of their lives early and suddenly. In many cases, they have to interrupt their studies to take on new roles related to domestic care and child rearing. This situation limits the possibilities of building their own life projects, access to higher education, official work and increases the risks of girls and adolescents being immersed in violent relationships based on inequalities and traditional stereotypes attributed to their age and gender.
Similarly, early pregnancy and teenage pregnancy increase the risks of girls and adolescents being victims of physical, psychological, economic and sexual violence, as well as being immersed in child marriage and early unions. In this context, it is essential to work on actions for promotion, prevention and protection, since in a large percentage this phenomenon occurs in the context of sexual violence committed by relatives and acquaintances.
“At PAHO/WHO, we reaffirm our commitment to work hand in hand with government structures, organizations and communities to prevent early and teenage pregnancy, strengthen comprehensive sexuality education programs and strengthen childhood and adolescent health care services,” he specified Dr. Tambini.
Similarly, PAHO Colombia will continue to work on programs for access to information on sexual and reproductive health, promotion of non-hegemonic masculinity, processes to transform gender stereotypes and interventions at the institutional and community level to prevent and comprehensively respond to the phenomenon. of gender-based violence, with an emphasis on sexual violence.