This week marks the inaugural celebration of Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Week and a host of activities have been planned.
PAHO/WHO Family and Community Health Advisor, Dr. Darlene Omeir, explained the genesis of the calendar event.
“Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Week will be commemorated annually during the third week of October, with the purpose of raising awareness of the urgency of increasing actions to prevent unintended early pregnancies. The Caribbean Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Week was established in agreement with CARICOM and Caribbean stakeholders.”
The week commenced on 18th October and concludes on 24th October 2020.
PAHO, in collaboration with UNFPA, coordinated and launched the week with several activities planned across the region:
- Nevis prepared a testimonial video of a teen mother whose life changed due to an unanticipated pregnancy. She was able to redeem herself financially, emotionally and spiritually and wants to use her story to dissuade adolescents from engaging in unprotected sex.
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is preparing a video and will include talks with teens and schools.
- Saint Kitts is organizing radio discussions and Facebook live group-discussions.
The PAHO Office for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Countries also joined efforts with the PAHO Subregional Program Coordination Caribbean Office in organizing activities at the regional level:
- Monday, 19th October – The road map to advance adolescent and youth health in the Caribbean was launched.
- Thursday, 22nd October; 5 p.m. – A webinar will be hosted entitled ‘Adolescent Youth Link-Up: Adolescent Pregnancy Risks and Prevention. See graphic on the next page. Click here to register.
- Friday, 23rd October; 11 a.m. – A technical meeting will be hosted on Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention in the Caribbean. See graphic on the next page. Click here to register.
In endorsing the launch of the week, Dr. Yitades Gebre, PAHO/WHO Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Countries stressed the urgency of teaching teens to manage their health.
“Latin America and the Caribbean have the second highest adolescent pregnancy rates in the world. Early pregnancy hampers the psychosocial development of girls, contributes to poor health outcomes, negatively affects their educational and employment opportunities."
“With the shutdown of schools to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the likelihood of experiencing violence and abuse at home, unintended pregnancies, early unions, school dropout, and economic hardship, increases.”
Dr. Gebre advised: “The reduction of adolescent pregnancy requires ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health care (SRH) services, including access to family planning, information and education.
Despite regional and country-level efforts, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) continues to have the second highest adolescent fertility rate in the world in the age group 15-19 years, and the slowest rate of decline. Moreover, LAC is the only region with an estimated increasing trend in pregnancies in girls younger than 15 years. This issue has become particularly critical during to the COVID-19 pandemic, which can further exacerbate the already limited access of adolescent girls to sexual and reproductive health information and services.