The Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Network, is calling on government and traditional authorities to improve sex education and provide the right support to tackle teenage pregnancies in the Upper East Region.
The group says there is a need for stakeholders to “initiate open and frank discussions on adopting and implementing a culturally sensitive and age-appropriate Reproductive Health Education (RHE) in schools and communities in the Upper East Region and Ghana as a whole.”
In 2019, there were 6,233 teenage pregnancies recorded in the region, but there was a 5 percent increase in the 2020 figures.
For 2020, there were 6,533 adolescent girls aged 10 to 19 who either became “pregnant or became mothers” the group said in a statement.
The group attributes the increase to the “COVID-19 school lockdown and restrictions” imposed last year by the President.
It further argued that other factors which fuel “unintended teenage pregnancies and child marriages in the region include “gender inequality, difficulties in accessing Adolescent Reproductive Health information and Youth Friendly Health services, poverty, and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The GES data released in September 2020 reported that 220 teenage pregnancies occurred among girls in Junior High Schools, out of which 30 were nursing mothers. While 105 Junior High School girls were married during the period, 48 Senior High School girls became pregnant or nursing mothers,” it stated.
The group says this calls for an all-inclusive approach in tackling “the underlying causes of high teenage pregnancies and motherhood, including stigma, poverty, social norms around expected behaviours and peer pressure to engage in sexual relations at an early age resulting in unintended pregnancies.”