The Assin Fosu Municipal Health Directorate has identified endemic poverty as an underlining cause of teenage pregnancies in the Area.
It noted that many parents had neglected their core responsibility of caring for their children’s basic needs like food, medical care, shelter, clothing, love, attention, understanding, acceptance, quality time and support.
Mr Robert Mensah, Health Promotion Officer (HPO) of the Municipal Health Directorate disclosed this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at Assin Fosu.
Mr Mensah mentioned other factors to include broken homes, single parenting, peer pressure, lack of sex education, misconceptions about family planning, rape, defilement, and children sleeping with parents in the same room.
According to the HPO, the increasing rate of unemployment among many parents had resulted in abject poverty, forcing them to shirk their obligations, forcing their girls to unscrupulous men who lured them into unprotected sex leading to teenage pregnancies and creating a vicious cycle of poverty.
“Many parents are unable to provide the needs of their children, resulting in teenage girls sleeping with men for money and other gifts to meet their daily needs. The canker has led to many adolescent girls becoming school dropouts in the municipality.”
Mr Mensah explained that the situation had created a vicious cycle where young poor semi-educated girls have become premature mothers at the expense of their education and development.
To curb the menace and make adolescent girls become responsible adults in the future, it was necessary to introduce livelihood empowerment programmes and mentor them to dress properly, be God fearing and adopt family planning in some cases, he stated.
Mr Mensah expressed worry over the psychological trauma and social rejection most pregnant teens face when criticized harshly and rejected by their parents, and cautioned that such maltreatment could have a lasting impact on their mental health.
He enumerated the health effects of teenage pregnancies to include complications such as anaemia in pregnancy, low birth weight, and stillbirth, among others.
Others are stigma, unsafe abortion, and often no love for the child and advised teenagers to make good use of adolescent-friendly corners where issues of adolescent reproductive health were mostly discussed.
He called for increased support from donor partners and non-governmental organizations(NGOs) to effectively scale up public sensitisation on teenage pregnancies to reduce the consequences.