20 February 2018

Ethiopia: Putting an End to Teenage Pregnancy

Ethiopia has a number of success stories in reducing maternal mortality rate in the African . But, some says it needs to do a lot in preventing unwanted pregnancy among teenage girls as it has been continuing to wreak havoc on the campaign for accelerated reduction of maternal mortality rate.

Health State Minister Advisor Girma Ashenafi says out of 100,000 mothers, 870 used to die while giving birth during first year of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

"By the year 2016, such situation was completely changed and the mortality rate was reduced by 72 percent due to the improvement and expansion of health centers across the country."

He, however, says the current mortality rate is considered to be high by international standard and so special attention has to be paid to narrow the gap.

According to Girma, the prevalence of teenage pregnancy has greatly contributed to the current maternal mortality rate.

Fore example, among the total number of pregnant mothers, 13 percent of them were teenage girls in 2017, he adds.

He also notes that those who are exposed to teenage pregnancy are at high risk of unexpected labor, blood pressure anemia and fistula .

The advisor, hence, calls on parents ,schools and the public at large to protect teenage girls through exerting concerted efforts of preventing teenage pregnancy. .

For Dr Mudissa Kaba, a member of Social Health Department at Addis Ababa University, urbanization, the change of life style and the exposure to the western culture have played a negative role in preventing teenage pregnancy. "Indeed, 40 years back, the number of educated women were insignificant. But now, we have more educated women who could shape teenage girls' behavior in positive manner. "

He also says gender and reproductive health education have been contributing a lot in guiding girls and making sex issues less taboo.

However, he stresses that with regard to bringing behavioral changes, the nation needs to do a lot.

"When teenage girls are victim of unwanted pregnancy, they stop going to school and face various social and economic hardships. But, there has been no consensus with regard to addressing the problem and assisting the dropout girls as the result of pregnancy."

Sister Azeb Admasu works for the Ministry of Health. She says nowadays, teenage girls have more profound information about sexual reproduction health than their parents. "Parents need to be more aware of sexual production than their daughters with a view to preventing teenage pregnancy."

As to her, particularly reproductive health education gives sufficient information about how to deal with challenges resulting from puberty age. "Whenever a friend request of opposite sex occurs, they should have a firm stand to give priority to education."

Of course, there are various situations which ruin teenage girls' future. Hence, she urges the pertinent bodies to identify those places of public entertainment that put teenage girls' life in danger and shutdown them for good as well.

Responding to question whether the situation can be curbed through legal enforcing authorities or not, Azeb says such issues have been discussed by school officials,parents and the public at large using media and other platforms, but, the danger is still looming.

She also reiterates that concerted efforts need to exerted by all stakeholders to tackle teenage pregnancy before it affects the coming generation.

According to the Central Statistic Authority report, 50 percent of the Ethiopian population is female and a fifth of them are in their fertility age.


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