Dr Leticia Appiah, the Executive Director of the National Population Council, says Ghana’s failure to aggressively tackle issues of teenage pregnancy is entrenching the poverty cycle in the country.
She noted that issues of teenage pregnancies, child marriages, and high-risk pregnancies continued to hamper national development and improved living standards of the people and must be prioritised.
Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra, the Executive Director, asked, “Are we ever going to come out of poverty by either perpetuating cultures that do not harness human capital but rather produce poor people or we will look on for these negative phenomena to continue?”
She said, “As humans, our lives are all interlinked and interconnected,“ adding that it should therefore guide our approach to development at all levels from policy to the home.
“What we are encouraged to do at home or not ultimately affects the national budget, our salaries, and ultimately our collective quality of life.
“The long term negative impact of teen pregnancy, child marriage and high-risk pregnancy compounded or exacerbated by the impact of covid 19 has contributed to creating a dent in the national coffers so the government cannot increase the salary of public sector workers,” Dr Appiah stated.
She said unlike the COVID-19 pandemic, which the State had little or no control over, it had a choice to confront social issues like teenage pregnancies that affected the living standard of the citizens.
“The pandemic we are dealing with was not a choice, however, we chose to avoid confronting child marriage, teen pregnancies, and high-risk pregnancies whose consequences are felt, in health, education security, on the environment, and industrialisation just to mention a few.
“Neglecting the problem not only adds on numbers but entrenches the poverty cycle among the numbers thereby creating more poorer people who contribute less to national development but who consume more in all social sectors,” she said.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), one in five girls aged 20-24 years is married before the age of 18 in Ghana.