The Commission on Population and Development (PopCom) has sounded the alarm over the 7,000 teenage pregnancies in Eastern Visayas logged for 2019.
In the same year, at least eight (8) young mothers in Eastern Visayas had already given birth at the age of 13, while those aged 19 years in the same year had the largest number of teenage pregnancies at 3,009 cases.
“They are getting younger and younger. There even was a case in previous years where we had 11-year olds who were already pregnant. It’s a very sad and scary situation for our adolescents to be in,” PopCom Eastern Visayas Regional Director Elnora Pulma said.
The agency’s regional office said that the figures could even increase in 2020 due to travel restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Even with quarantines now easing, the pandemic has already impacted normality, causing couples – including minor parents – to spend more time in their households, which could lead the number to increase further.
PopCom’s regional office is stepping up its information drives to tackle increasing cases in Region 8.
The key reasons for the high incidence of teenage pregnancy are insufficient sex education and lack of access to birth control. With regard to sex education, some girls do not realize that having sex will lead to pregnancy or fully consider the responsibility of having children.
PopCom continues to provide its information and adolescent-referral service to schools and other platforms. These are intended to help reduce the escalating numbers of teenage pregnancies by countering it with the right facts on as many forms as possible.
The agency says it has been reaching out to more teens through social and mainstream media, working with local governments and non-government organizations, and conducting face-to-face meetings.
It addressed and discussed the issue of adolescent pregnancy well before the pandemic and backed the call to declare it a “national social emergency” in 2020.
The 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey found that children born to very young mothers are at increased risk of illness and death. The study also found that adolescent mothers are more likely to face adverse pregnancy outcomes and limited opportunities in seeking educational opportunities than young women who delay childbearing.