Philippine Daily Inquirer
Red flag on teen pregnancies up
Population officials on Wednesday called on President Duterte to declare teenage pregnancy a national emergency, warning that this could blow up into a crisis unless dealt with. Some 200,000 Filipino women, aged 10 to 19, gave birth in 2017, according to the Philippine Statistics Office. This meant that adolescent mothers gave birth to 24 babies every hour, or one newborn every 2.5 minutes.
Population officials on Wednesday called on President Duterte to declare teenage pregnancy a national emergency, saying that if left unattended, “the Philippines might [have] an impending population crisis.”
“Our adolescents deserve the best start in their young lives, and we can do that by not allowing Filipino children to have children,” said Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III, executive director of the Commission on Population and Development (Popcom), at the launch of “No More Children Having Children” campaign in Quezon City.
Perez called on Congress to pass a law that allows pregnant adolescents, as well as those who suffered a miscarriage, to access modern family planning services without requiring parental consent.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, some 200,000 Filipino women between the age of 10 and 19 gave birth in 2017.
This means that adolescent mothers in the country give birth to 24 babies every hour, or one newborn every 2.5 minutes, Perez said.
According to the Popcom chief, teenage mothers have a higher prevalence of health risks, which include premature delivery, low birth weight among infants, complications at birth and inborn anatomical defects.
“[Babies] born preterm and with low weights are at risk of stunted growth. Adolescent pregnancies will take their toll on the health of newborns,” Perez said.
In a 2006 study, lost income from early childbearing was estimated to amount to some P27 billion yearly, which is equivalent to 1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, the population official said.
Perez said early childbearing also reduces the probability of teenage females completing their education, “drastically reducing their earning [capacity]. Among those who belong to the marginalized sector, [teenage pregnancy] will severely impact their chances of escaping poverty,” he added.
Among the measures that government has proposed is the conduct of a comprehensive sexuality education program meant to raise awareness on how to prevent adolescent pregnancies.
Despite the absence of invited lawmakers whose support population advocates were soliciting, Perez said they had already filed bills addressing the issue in both houses of Congress.
“Last Congress, the proposed Senate version was approved on third reading, while the House version reached the appropriations committee. I think just one final push is needed,” Perez said at a press briefing.