CITY OF SAN FERNANDO PAMPANGA -The number of births among adolescent mothers in Central Luzon dropped as seen in the latest Civil Registry and Vital Statistics (CRVS) 2020 from the Philippine Statistics Authority. The report shows a decrease of 10.74% from the previous data (CRVS 2019) recording a total of 18,722 cases among adolescaent girls aged 10-19. While the majority of teenage pregnancy in the region is still highest among adolescents aged 15-19 in 2020, there were also recorded 270 live births coming from very young adolescents (VYA) aged 10-14 for the same year.
“The fact that fewer teens are becoming pregnant is encouraging news,” said POPCOM-III Regional Director Lourdes P. Nacionales. “The latest data reflect a decline in teenage pregnancy cases in the region. However, these numbers are still alarming especially with the incidence of younger girls giving birth”. She further added that pregnancies in the 10-14 age group are a matter of national concern quoting former health secretary Esperanza Cabral that “one teenage pregnancy is still one teenage pregnancy too many”.
As the regional data decline, Central Luzon remains 2nd in rank among all the regions with high incidence of teen pregnancy cases contributing 11.92% or 18,722 out of the 157,060 teenage pregnancy cases in the country. Ranking 1st is Region IV-A (CALABARZON) and NCR placing 3rd.
Among the 7 provinces in Central Luzon, Bulacan ranked first in teenage pregnancy in 2020 with a total of 5,156 cases followed by Pampanga with 5,002 and Nueva Ecija with 3,720. The province of Tarlac on the other hand recorded 1,889 cases, Bataan with 1,528, Zambales with 1,398 and Aurora with 453. Highly urbanized cities in the region recorded a total of 1,079 adolescent pregnancies with Angeles City having 768 and Olongapo City with 311 respectively.
Empirical evidence gathered suggests the interplay of information and communication technology, poverty, lack of access to reproductive health information and services, ineffective parental guidance, negative peer pressure, and early engagement in sexual and non-sexual risky behaviors are among the crucial factors in the prevalence of teenage pregnancy in the region.
The agency asserts the issue as both a health and development concern as it affects the health and total development of the individual with implications on the family, the community, and socio-economic development. RD Nacionales further said that “adolescent mothers are more likely to experience adverse pregnancy outcomes and are restrained from pursuing educational and employment opportunities”.
The decrease in adolescent pregnancy is attributed to the intensified implementation of the Adolescent Health and Development (AHD) programs in the region as well as the impact of COVID-19, including the community quarantines, and the shift to virtual communication, especially in schools. The region-wide information dissemination on ASRH through various platforms during the pandemic immensely helped increase public awareness on the concerns of widespread adolescent and unintended pregnancies.
POPCOM III continues with the whole-of-government approaches with alliance from the Central Luzon Regional Development Council (CLRDC) with the creation of RDC Resolution No. 03-15-2019 supporting the Declaration of Adolescent Pregnancy as National Social Emergency Requiring Inter-Agency Action. In the same light, the Regional Development Council Regional Gender and Development Committee (RGADC) passed Resolution No. 03-06-2019 Creating a Technical Working Group (TWG) to Craft the Regional Action Plan Addressing High Cases of Teenage Pregnancy in Central Luzon. In effect, these policies significantly help create multi-sectoral strategies to curb the prevalence of teenage pregnancies and to foster more collaborations among stakeholders in the region.
“We see the decline in adolescent birth rate in the country and in the region and we are continuously putting efforts to have these numbers trimmed down in the coming years with numerous programs in place” RD Nacionales stated. In the past year it adopted national initiatives including The Challenge Initiative Program -Establishing Adolescent and Youth Friendly Cities Towards the Reduction of Teenage Pregnancies in partnership with the Zuellig Family Foundation, Social Protection Program for Adolescent Mothers and their Children (SPPAMC), and the advocacy campaign on the Comprehensive Sexual Education in partnership with DepEd Region III. All these initiatives aim to contribute to a better quality of life among adolescents.
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