Teenage pregnancies in W. Visayas surge

Comparative data show the number of registered live births among adolescent mothers in Western Visayas for 2020, 2021, and 2022. (Illustration courtesy of CPD 6)

By Mariela Angella Oladive

The Commission on Population Development (CPD) is calling for the localization of strategies to combat the rising trend of adolescent pregnancies in Western Visayas, as outlined in the Philippine Population and Development Plan of Action (PPD-PoA) 2023-2028, following disturbing statistical revelations.

Statistics from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) indicate a troubling increase in registered live births among adolescent mothers, with those aged 19 and under accounting for 8,787 of the 89,901 total live births in 2022.

This figure reflects a growth from 9.10 percent in 2020 to 9.77 percent in 2022.

Harold Alfred P. Marshall, the CPD Regional Director, conveyed his serious concerns at a recent Population, Health, and Nutrition (PHN) Sub-committee meeting, highlighting an uptick in pregnancy rates among the very young.

“There’s a growing trend of children between 10-14 years old engaging in risky sexual behavior and becoming pregnant. We’re seeing this trend increase,” Marshall pointed out.

Negros Occidental topped the list for registered live births by adolescent mothers with 3,305 cases, followed by Iloilo Province at 2,390. Capiz, Aklan, Antique, Iloilo City, Bacolod City, and Guimaras recorded lower, yet significant figures.

The CPD recognizes adolescent pregnancy as a pressing population issue and emphasizes the need to prioritize Adolescent Health and Development (AHD) in the PPD-PoA’s local strategy for 2023-2028.

The agency highlights the necessity of cooperative efforts among government sectors, civil society, and local communities to effectively address this issue.

Within the PPD-PoA, AHD is a prime focus, involving comprehensive strategies like Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE), improved access to sexual and reproductive health services, prevention of sexual violence, programs addressing the socio-economic aspects of adolescent pregnancy, and initiatives encouraging youth participation at the community level.

Marshall encouraged PHN Sub-committee members to incorporate population and development (PopDev) considerations into their programs and services, assuring technical support for executing targeted interventions.

The overarching aim of the PPD-PoA is to capitalize on demographic opportunities, address enduring population challenges, realize demographic dividends, and promote sustainable and inclusive growth at all societal levels.

In alignment with these goals, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. promulgated Executive Order No. 40 in 2023, endorsing the PPD-PoA and mandating relevant agencies to aid in its realization, thus affirming the government’s dedication to population and development matters.

As Western Visayas contends with adolescent pregnancy issues, the urgency to implement localized strategies is evident, calling for united efforts to protect the health and future of the region’s young people. (With information from the Philippine Information Agency-6)