A FORMER broadcast journalist-turned-congresswoman has expressed serious concern about the rising teenage pregnancy in the country, prompting her to push for a national program aimed at addressing the problem.
“Ten percent of our country’s population is composed of girls aged 15 to 19; of these 10 million girls, one in ten get pregnant -- that’s one million teenagers who must deal with the difficult realities of raising a child,” said Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones, a former ABS-CBN Channel 2 reporter.
Aragones said she wants the country to have a National Program on the Prevention of Teenage Pregnancy (NPPTP).
She said the absence of programs to curb teenage pregnancy and provide development-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) exposes Filipino youth to problems such as early and unintended pregnancy, unsafe abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, and HIV.
“This will not just impact young people, but our country overall, as teenage pregnancies have a negative effect on education participation, unemployment, and poverty rates,” said Aragones.
Citing statistics showing that teenage pregnancies in the Philippines remain disturbingly high, Aragones filed House Bill (HB) No. 4742 or the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Act of 2017, that seeks to “institute programs that would address the country’s alarmingly high teenage pregnancy rate.”
“Lubos na nakakabahala ang pagdami ng kabataang sa halip na nagpapatuloy sa pag-aaral ay bigla na lamang mahihinto dahil sa maagang pagbubuntis. Kailangan nating matugunan ang lumalalang problemang ito dahil kadalasang ang mga batang ito ay hindi pa sapat ang kakayahan para magtaguyod ng isang pamilya,” Aragones stressed.
Aragones, who chairs the House Committee on Population and Family Relations, cited the findings of a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) study that revealed teenage pregnancies in the Philippines continued to rise despite a worldwide decline in pregnancies of women between the ages of 15 and 19.
According to the UNFPA’s State of World Population 2016 Report, teenage pregnancy limits far too many girls’ hopes, dreams and aspirations.
It undermines girls’ health, rights and opportunities and also costs the country around P33 billion each year in foregone earnings.
On the other hand, girls who reach adulthood with an education and their health and rights intact, could triple their lifetime incomes, thereby fueling progress for generations and entire nations. Empowering today’s 10-year-old girls could yield huge demographic and economic dividends and build better societies.
The bill, if passed, would direct the National Youth Commission (NYC), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Health (DoH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Population Commission (POPCOM) in collaboration with other relevant national agencies and civil society organizations to develop an NPPTP “that shall serve as the national framework for inter-agency and inter-sectoral collaboration at all levels to address the various health, cultural, socio-economic and institutional determinants of teenage pregnancy.”
The measure also provides for the organization of Regional and Local Information and Service Delivery Network (ISDN) for Adolescent Health and Development (AHD) in all of the country’s provinces and chartered cities.
These ISDN would consist of different government and non-government organizations, institutions, and facilities catering information and services to adolescents within their localities, and would be tasked to, among others, (1) assess the various factors contributing to pregnancies among adolescents at the regional and local levels; (2) identify, harmonize, coordinate, and implement inter-agency interventions to address the various issues related to teenage pregnancies; (3) provide, in collaboration with concerned LGUs, needed information and services for adolescent development; and (4) monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of coordinative and referral systems and other interagency interventions jointly implemented by the ISDN.
The bill also mandates the development and implementation of age and development-appropriate CSE from Grade 5 onwards, “and shall include age-appropriate topics such as, but not limited to, human sexuality, adolescent reproductive health, health and nutrition, gender-sensitivity, gender equality and equity, and life-skills the purpose of which is to enable adolescents to be responsible in nurturing their sexuality, prevent sexual abuse, and avoid unintended pregnancy.”