A recent report on practices of adolescents revealed the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the country were recorded in Regions One, Seven, and Nine.
This is according to Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence, who made this disclosure on Friday during the launch of a three-year India-United Nations Development Partnership Fund Project aimed at reducing adolescent pregnancy in Guyana.
“Our situation is critical … some of the contributory factors being lack of access to contraceptives and comprehensive sexual education, risky sexual behaviour and early sex, and there is also another overriding factor that many times we overlook and that is the cultural differences. And that is something in everything we do we must take into account, whether it is in Region One, Region Seven or in Region Nine, we will find that as we move from one tribe to the other that their cultural differences stand out,” the Minister said.
As such, the three-year project can be seen as a timely intervention since the issue of teenage pregnancy continues to be a thorn in the side of the Guyanese populace, she noted.
“Our adolescent fertility rate being above average especially among our Indigenous girls. Seventy-four out of every 1000 in Regions One, Seven and Nine between the age group of 15 to 19 years old,” Lawrence said.
UN Resident Coordinator Mikiko Tanaka highlighted that this project sought to increase the use of quality adolescent sexual and reproductive health services by adolescents, empower adolescents to prevent teenage pregnancy and contribute to a 10 per cent annual reduction in pregnancy rates among adolescents aged 10-19 in Regions One and Nine by March of 2022.
“An investment such as this is much needed. The Government of India and the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana deserve special credit for the realisation of this initiative,” Tanaka remarked.
Meanwhile, Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Venkatchalam Mahalingam stated that this was the first project of its kind in the entire Caribbean.
“We are happy that the Ministry of Public Health of Guyana and the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association will be the local partners in this project. We are proud to say that India’s development cooperation framework mainly embodies the principles of the South-South Cooperation.”
This project comes at a cost of over $500 million, and is expected to significantly reduce the occurrence of teen pregnancies in Regions One and Nine over the three-year period.
While Region Seven has been identified as the other region with a high rate of teenage pregnancies, the Government is expected to address the issue, since the project does not cater for that region.