The recently released 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority revealed that roughly one in ten Region 1 women age 15-19 have begun childbearing: 10 percent are already mothers (ranks 4th among the 17 regions) and another 3 percent are pregnant with their first child (the highest among the 17 regions).
The survey also revealed that the overall percentage of currently married women age 15-19 not currently using any contraceptive method is higher (64.2%) than the users of any contraceptive method (35.8%).
In a report by the Department of Health-I, the incidence of teenage pregnancy rate in Region 1 increased from 10.06% in the 2nd quarter of 2017 to 10.29% in the 3rd quarter of 2017. The cities/municipalities of Laoag, San Fernando, Alaminos, and Narvacan have the highest incidence of adolescent birth rate in the region for 2017.
The Philippines is the only Asian country with an increasing teenage pregnancy/adolescent birth rate and it has become one of the major issues concerning adolescents (age 10-19). According to the National Youth Assessment (2010), 3 in 10 youth in Region 1 engage in premarital sex and most of these are unprotected against the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections such as HIV/AIDS.
Teenage pregnancy has social and health implications. Children born to very young mothers are at an increased risk of sickness and death. Likewise, teenage mothers are more at risk to experience adverse pregnancy outcomes such as maternal mortality and to be stopped from pursuing educational opportunities, thus, robbing not only the mother but also the child of their future.
POPCOM, as it thrives to educate young people about being responsible on their sexual and reproductive health, continues to implement adolescent initiatives to help curb the rise in teenage pregnancies through its Adolescent Health and Development Programs (AHDP), Responsible Parenthood and Family Planning (RP-FP) programs, and the establishment of Teen Centers.
Included in these programs are the Learning Packages where parents are oriented and educated on how to discuss sex and sex-related topics with their children, and the U4U, an activity wherein students are trained to be peer educators of critical and correct information on sexual and reproductive health, teenage pregnancy, and HIV/AIDS.
The need to educate young people, a multifaceted effort, is the key in protecting themselves from harm. (PIA / Commission on Population Region 1)