By: Editor | Voltaonlinegh.com |
Adzo Ametame, (not her real name) has tears running down her eyes while she narrates her challenges after given birth to her first baby at age 14.
Adzo who is an orphan had been living with her grandmother at a very small village not far from Ave-Dakpa, the District Capital of the Akatsi North District.
Adzo says she did not intend to get pregnant at that age, but it was the desire to get some money for her-upkeep and that of her weak grandmother that led to her present condition. The man who impregnated her is another 17-year-old; who is a labourer.
“He is the one who was taking care of me, but now that there is a baby, he is unable to take care of all three of us. Apart from that I am also not working so, it is hard. I really regret this decision,” she intimated.
Mrs. Millicent Kokui Helu, Akatsi North District Health Director mentioned poverty, lack of parental guidance and ignorance as major contributory factors to the menace which has left Adzo and many of her contemporaries in the district and other parts of the country in similar predicament or even worse.
She indicated among other statistics that as at October 2019, the district has already recorded 90 cases; a situation the Volta Regional Department of Gender also attributed to poverty, lack of health education, gender inequality among others. Like Adzo, many of these teenagers are having a hard time taking good care of themselves and their innocent babies.
Josephine Owusu, a midwife at a health outreach in Ho, the Volta Regional Capital noted that teenage pregnancy comes with a lot of attendant problems, including premature babies, still births and even death be it maternal or infant.
In a bid to curb the rising cases of teenage pregnancy in the Akatsi North District, the Regional Department of Gender has commenced an intensive sensitization programme for men and boys in the area.
The initiative, being supported by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), is aimed at conscientizing the male gender on the reproductive health issues of young girls and women in order to get them actively involved in tackling the high rate of early child birth in the area.
Madam Lena Alai, the Regional Director of the Department of Gender, speaking to www.voltaonlinegh.com at one of such fora at Ave-Dakpa, the district capital, noted that sensitising females was inadequate, hence the decision to engage men and boys to reverse the trend, which has placed the Akatsi North district at the top spot of the teenage pregnancy rankings in the region.
She said “We have targeted the women for far too long now. But we’re living in a society of men and women where these issues are taking place. A girl (like14-year-old Adzo) can get pregnant only once in a whole year, but a boy or a man for that matter can impregnate maybe about sixty girls in a year and so this is the time we have to bring the conversation close to our men.”
According to her, there were far reaching implications of early child birth on the life of teenage girls, hence the need for a concerted effort from all, especially the males to empower the young girls attain their aspirations in life instead of making them early mothers.
-The Akatsi North District in 2014 recorded 100 teenage pregnancies and became number one among the 25 districts in the Volta/Oti regions.
– The cases however declined in two subsequent years until 2017 and 2018, when it rose to 112 and 114 respectively.
-As of October 2019, the district has already recorded 90 teenage pregnancy cases, making it the number one in the region and second nationwide.
Although these statistics threaten the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, the new initiative by the Volta Regional Department of Gender when sustained, will go a long way to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls; promote good health and well-being of all; enhance inclusive education; reduce poverty and inequality.
It is no wonder that Mrs. Millicent Kokui Helu, Akatsi North District Health Director called for strategic partnerships to sustain and apply other strategies to reverse the teenage pregnancy trend.
Eli Agbevia, a 20-year-old Commercial Motor operator admitted that “I never knew, all this. In fact, we have not been treating our sisters well. At least if we use condoms or even allow them to complete their education before engaging them, our women will have a better life.”