By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Guyana’s teen pregnancy rate is the second highest in the region according to the 2013 State of the World Population Report which turns the spotlight on girls who become mothers before their 18th birthday – ‘motherhood in childhood’.
With a birth rate of 97 per 1,000 adolescent girls, Guyana lags only behind the Dominican Republic with a rate of 98 per 1,000 teens – the highest in the region.
Meanwhile, Belize has a rate of 90, St Vincent and the Grenadines with a rate of 70 and Jamaica with a rate birth rate of 72, accounting for the top five countries in the region.
On the other hand, the Government Information Agency (GINA) in July 2013 reported that Guyana recorded a reduction in teen pregnancy over the last decade.
“For Guyana, the reduction of pregnancies for under 15 years dropped from 4 percent in 2003 to 1 percent in 2011, the 15-16 group reduced from 5.3 percent in 2003 to 2.6 percent in 2011 and for the 17-19 group (which captures consensual sex) the number declined from 21 percent in 2008 to 17.1 percent in 2011. Meanwhile, 31 percent of pregnancy complications occur in very young and older women,” GINA reported.
Youth Minister Dr. Frank Anthony had also said that there was a barrier to access information on sexual reproductive health for teenagers in Guyana
According to the report titled Motherhood in Childhood: Facing the challenge of adolescent pregnancy, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) was the only region where births to girls under age 15 increased. As a region, the LAC stands at third with an adolescent birth rate of 79 per 1,000 teens.
Overall, West and Central Africa lead all regions with 129 births, followed by South Africa at 109. The rate of Arab states stands at 50, South Asia at 49, Eastern Europe and Central Asia at 31, and East Asia and the Pacific at 20.
The United Nation’s Population Fund (UNFPA), which compiled the report, pointed out that impoverished, poorly educated and rural girls were more likely to become pregnant than their wealthier, educated and urban peers.
“Girls from ethnic minorities or marginalised groups, and those who have limited or no access to sexual and reproductive health are also at greater risk,” the UNFPA noted in the report, which was launched yesterday at a function held at the Chinese Benevolent Centre in St Andrew.
“… Girls who remain in school longer are less likely to become pregnant. Education prepares girls for future jobs and livelihoods, raises their self-esteem and their status, gives them more say in decisions affecting their lives,” added the report.
Efforts to contact Guyana’s Health Minister on these new findings specific to Guyana proved futile.