The North-East Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Abdulai Abukari, has expressed concern about the high rate of teenage pregnancies in the Region.
He said the GHS noticed that a high rate of teenage pregnancies was recorded among women at Ante-Natal Clinics (ANC) in the Region, which stood at 15.0 percent in 2022, the highest in the country as against 15.9 percent in 2021.
He said for the past three years, the Northeast was ranked either first or second as the Region with the highest proportion of pregnancies, which occurred in girls less than 19 years, “Between 15 and 16 percent of pregnancies in our Region involve young adolescent girls.”
Dr. Abukari, at a stakeholder engagement to find solutions to teenage pregnancy in the Region, said “It is sad to note that in 2022, 3951 adolescents registered their pregnancies at our health facilities which was a slight decrease from 3,962 in 2021.
“Out of this figure, 100 of the adolescents were from the ages of 10 and 14 slightly dropping from the 2021 figure of 108.
“It is against this backdrop that as a Health Service in the Region, together with our partners and stakeholder, we have decided to organise this important meeting to solicit your views in addressing this menace,” he said.
The meeting was aimed at outlining the unique characteristics of communities in the region that predisposed girls to early pregnancy and the associated challenges and finding solutions that are acceptable to all.
Dr. Abukari appealed to all stakeholders to support the GHS to address the teenage pregnancy menace in the region.
He said teenage pregnancies were associated with risks including poor nutrition and anemia, unsafe abortions, and related complications such as death, stillbirths, and hypertension in pregnancy.
According to the Director, “Where the period of pregnancy is uneventful, childbirth is usually associated with obstructed labour which can cause the death of the baby or mother, or lead to obstetric fistula.
“The chances that a teenage girl will die from pregnancy-related complications are 28 percent higher in girls less than 18 years of age than those 18 years and above. When young girls are fortunate to have an uneventful pregnancy and childbirth, their children are at increased risk of suffering from malnutrition or dying before age five years.”
The Regional Director said teenage mothers were at increased risk of getting pregnant in less than two years after their first pregnancy, which affected their quality of life and health negatively.
He noted that female children of teenage mothers were at higher risk of getting pregnant as teenagers which perpetuated a vicious cycle of poverty and a less optimal quality of life.
Dr. Abukari expressed gratitude to Plan International Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) for the commitment and financial support towards the fight against teenage pregnancy in the Region.