Over the last two days, Caribbean nationals have been participating in the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN/ECLAC) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Caribbean Forum on Population, Migration and Development.
This activity is a part of an Intra- African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) Migration Project supported by the EU to build capacity in six ACP regions.
During yesterday’s session, the participants took part in the Caribbean’s preparation for a comprehensive review of the Cairo Programme of Action on Population and Development (ICPD), 20 years after its adoption.
The Ministers of Health and Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. Bheri Ramsaran and Dr. Frank Anthony respectively, both of whom were attending the forum; met with the media to share bits on the discussions that were going.
One of the forthcoming discussions focused on the decrease in teenage pregnancies. 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.
Minister Ramsaran noted that over the past two decades a lot has been done in protecting girl children and young women, but what resonated from the presentations from the Barbadian and Surinamese delegations was the fact that males are a part of the problem, and too often the discussion about teenage pregnancy centers on the females with the males not being involved as a participant but only as a by- stander.
“So one of the concrete measures you will see coming out of this activity would be how to involve the male,” he said. “While the Ministries of Health, Education and Culture, Youth and Sport will continue developing girl friendly programmes we now have to be more aware that young men are a part of the problem.”
He noted that the Barbadian delegation indicated they have an approach whereby they work with men who get young girls pregnant and try to engage them in being involved in their offspring’s life. They are even urged to encourage the girls to continue their education. Barbados has a reintegration programme for girls who become pregnant at an early age.
In recognition of the fact that Caribbean children are becoming engaged in adult acts (sex) at an earlier age, it is important for the taboos to be overcome while introducing culturally acceptable programmes.
In this regard, Minister Ramsaran disclosed that there has been a call for more youth friendly health spaces. He stressed that the Health Ministry will be working with the education Ministry to establish health units in schools so that youths, especially males, would be more enthused to access health care services.