Pregnancy among girls aged below 15 rose by 7% in 2019 – PopCom
MANILA, Philippines — The number of girls aged 15 and below who got pregnant in 2019 increased by 7 percent compared to the 2018 data, the Commission on Population and Development (PopCom) said.
According to PopCom, the latest civil-registry statistics collected from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said that there were 2,411 girls considered as very young adolescents — meaning aged 10 to 14 years old — who gave birth in 2019.
This is also the ninth straight year where the figure has risen since 2011, constantly making one out of every 10 pregnancies in the country’s database borne accounted for by teenagers.
While it did not divulge figures from the previous yeas, PopCom said pregnancies among very young adolescents had increased three-fold since 2000, when only 755 in the said age group gave birth.
Overall, the number of Filipino minors who gave birth in 2019 slightly increased from 62,341 in 2018 to 62,510.
Health Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III, PopCom chair, the government should swiftly address the rising trend of teenage pregnancy — “a national and social emergency” — through concerted efforts between various government agencies.
“As a national and social emergency, the spread of teenage pregnancy across the archipelago still persists at an alarming rate,” Perez said in a statement on Sunday.
“This requires more than a whole-of-government approach. Thus, we are calling on the private sector, LGUs, development partners and relevant government agencies to collaborate closely with us in arresting this social menace grappling our youth,” he added.
PopCom figures further showed that most of the births among teenage mothers — one in three to be exact — were recorded in Calabarzon with 8,008 births, the National Capital Region with 7,546, and Central Luzon with 7,523.
“Outside Luzon, the highest number of minors who gave birth were in Cebu/Central Visayas (4,541), Northern Mindanao (4,747), as well as the regions of Davao (4,551) and Cotabato (3,394),” PopCom said.
To address the alarming trend, PopCom vows to cooperate with other government offices, such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development under Secretary Rolando Bautista.
A social protection network, PopCom said, is currently in the works and may be rolled out within 2021.
“He [Perez] relayed that Congress has asked POPCOM to work with the Department of Social Welfare and Development so that adolescent mothers who are minors, as well as their children, can be provided social protection, similar to the ones offered to older persons and victims of disasters,” PopCom said.
Teenage pregnancy figures have been a growing problem in the country, with the commission tackling and discussing the problem even before the COVID-19 pandemic reached Philippine shores.
Almost one year ago, on Valentine’s Day, PopCom reached out to young people using cheesy lines, calling on them to exercise prudence and smart decision making to avoid unexpected pregnancies.
But with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting normalcy and with the lockdowns forcing couples — including minor parents — to spend more time inside homes, PopCom feared that the teenage pregnancy numbers might escalate.
Aside from projections of over two million births in 2020, of which 214,000 were unplanned, legislators like Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian and experts from the United Nations warned that the COVID-19 pandemic might prompt the rise of early marriages and pregnancies among girls.
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