To help to address the concerns of adolescents on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), teenage pregnancy and family planning, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has partnered the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to introduce the “Wawa Aba” platform.
The clinic finder mobile platform serves as a compass that directs teenagers to nearby clinics, hospitals, and pharmacies at their individual locations to seek healthcare or advice.
The application has been of use to hundreds of teenagers and younger adults since its establishment in 2019 and the UNFPA on Saturday introduced it to teenagers in the Bortianor community.
Mrs Dela Bright Gle, a Programme Analyst of UNFPA, explained that the app had become more relevant during this period of COVID-19 where going out to access products and services wasn’t advisable, as people could sit in the comfort of their homes and request for such services on their smartphones.
She said information gathered said many children in the Bortianor community felt they were mature enough after having completed junior high school, which to them was a great educational milestone, and therefore were free to start having sexual intercourse, giving birth, or engaging in drug and alcohol abuse.
Although abstinence was the best choice for teenagers, Mrs Gle said teenage pregnancy was on the rise in the community; hence, it was important to educate them on the use of family planning to safeguard their lives.
“Reports have shown that despite the numerous cautioning, teenagers are still having sex, so we don’t want to keep having them in a situation where they go to hide at corners to drink concoctions to abort their pregnancies and lose their lives.
“That is why we are here today to tell them that it is better to focus on their education to become better men and women in future, but if they can’t resist sex, then there are safe ways to go about it and not the ways of hiding to put their lives in danger,” she said.
Madam Regina Quartey, a Public Health Nurse, GHS, educating the Bortianor teenagers on SRHR, defined teenage pregnancy as female adolescents between the ages of 13 to 19 becoming pregnant intentionally or unintentionally.
Causes, she said included lack of education or information about reproduction, peer pressure, lack of parental guide and control, early engagement in sexual activities, traditions and cultures like early marriage, drug and alcohol abuse, low socioeconomic status, media influence, and sexual abuse.
She explained that teenage pregnancy posed several health implications for pregnant teens such as high blood pressure, premature and low weight babies, pre-eclampsia, which could lead to kidney problems, infant mortality, and unhealthy and under development of the brain of babies.
She, therefore, advised the children to stay focused on their books as it was the only way to achieving a brighter future.
“Please allow yourselves to be mentored by your parents and desist from early sexual relations. Trust me, pregnant teens go through a lot of trauma because they are usually unprepared to be a mother,” she advised.
Madam Quartey said most effective ways to prevent teenage pregnancy was the intensification of comprehensive sexuality education, access to birth control clinics such as family planning, parental control, and guidance, checks and balances on the media by government, abolishing of early marriage traditions and customs, planning of families by parents to be able to take better care of them and parents knowing the friends of their wards for better guidance.
Mr Dan Bright Abayateye, the Assembly Member for the Bortianor Electoral Area, said the rising numbers of teenage pregnancy in the area called for an action to equip the teenagers with the knowledge to serve as ambassadors against early sexual relations.
He advised parents to invest in the education of their children and their total welfare by paying attention to their needs, concerns, and possible physical changes that might occur in them to ensure their safety.