Rise in teen pregnancies likely during COVID-19 pandemic, warns Gatchalian
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday warned of a possible increase in teen pregnancies in the Philippines during the coronavirus pandemic and force teenage girls out of schools.
Citing the projection of the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM), which saw unplanned pregnancies soar amid the COVID-19 crisis, the senator noted similar trends on rising unplanned pregnancies during natural calamities
“Matagal nang hamon sa ating pigilan ang pagdami ng kaso ng maagang pagbubuntis ngunit dahil sa COVID-19, nanganganib na mas dumami pa ang mga kabataang kababaihan na maging batang ina at huminto sa pag-aaral,” Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate basic education committee, said.
(It has always been a challenge for us to stop the rise in early pregnancies but because of COVID-19, more teenage girls are in danger of becoming young mothers and may be forced out of school.)
According to the senator, this situation should prompt local government units (LGUs) to ramp up their efforts to raise awareness about teenage pregnancy through public health and population management programs.
Recalling the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda that hit the country in 2013, Gatchalian pointed to Department of Science and Technology-National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NRCP) study which showed that 23.5 percent of teenage girls in Eastern Visayas got pregnant that year while 14.8 percent got pregnant and had another child the following year.
The senator also noted the 65-percent rise in adolescent pregnancies in affected communities in Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak.
Gatchalian underscored the urgency of enhancing comprehensive sexuality education for learners to counter this upsurge in adolescent pregnancies.
He noted that according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the factors of teenage pregnancy include lack of access to school, information, and sexual and reproductive health care.
Gatchalian said that before the coronavirus disease hit the country, experts had already considered teenage pregnancy in the Philippines a “national emergency.”
He further cited findings of the National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) in 2017, which showed that adverse pregnancy outcomes “are more likely to occur among teenage mothers, while their children are at greater risk of sickness and even death.”
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