January 21, 2020
A teenage mother from Cagayan de Oro City visited the POPCOM X regional family planning clinic last week to avail Intrauterine Device (IUD) as her choice of family planning method.
In an interview, Samantha, not her real name, said that she was pregnant at the age of 14 and now bears her 7-month old premature child.
“Nagbasol ko…kapoy man maburos. Bug-at gyud kaayo siya bitbiton unya ‘di ka kasabot sa imong gusto kaunon. Wala ka kasabot sa imong gibati,” says Samantha when asked about the discomforts associated with teenage pregnancy.
“I regret [being pregnant]…it’s tiring to be pregnant. It feels heavy for me to carry the child and I don’t understand my appetite.”
Samantha is set to finish her studies as she takes an open high school program and is hopeful to proceeding college with her 16-year-old partner. She even further by saying that, “Dapat gyud ayohon pagpili ang barkada. Naka-influence gyud ang barkada sa akoa.”
“It is important to choose friends wisely. My friends have influenced [my decisions] so much.”
It can be noted that in the 2013 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFSS) in Northern Mindanao, friends are the primary source of teenagers’ information on sexuality and reproductive health problems (45%) compared to medical professionals (35%) and mothers (33%) or fathers (22%).
This data can be attributed to the continued rising of adolescent pregnancy not only in Region 10 but in the entire country due to widespread misinformation on sexuality and reproductive health.
In an interview, POPCOM Undersecretary Juan Antonio A. Perez III said that in 2017, the Commission has recorded 574 daily cases of teenage pregnancy or an average of 196,000 Filipinos between the ages of 15 and 19 years old get pregnant each year.
POPCOM X Regional Director Jeremias Gupit said that there is a need to intensify government’s interventions to address teenage pregnancy issues. Part of the Commission’s intensification strategies is to recalibrate the AdolescentHealth and Development (AHD) program so that it would bring awareness and correct information on reproductive health to the sexually active adolescents.
More school and community-based teen centers and functional Information Service and Delivery Network (ISDN) will be organized and mobilized to provide information on sexuality and reproductive health and the provision of family planning services.
House Bill No. 4742 or Prevention of Teenage Pregnancy Act of 2017 which seeks to “institute programs that would address the country’s alarmingly high teenage pregnancy rate” was filed by Laguna Representative Sol Aragones.
Among other provisions of the bill, Section 14 guarantees social protection for teenage mothers especially on “maternal health services including antenatal check-ups, postpartum family planning counseling, home-based education for mothers, PhilHealth coverage, and training for livelihood programs.”
POPCOM X and other stakeholders are hoping that this bills once passed into law will be a powerful support policy for the title itself calls for an intensified program to prevent early and repeat pregnancies.
In a way, preventing repeat pregnancy for teen mothers is also POPCOM’s contribution to the social protection program of the government taking note of the data based on the 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) that it is the mothers who become victims of domestic violence.