The Upper West Region has made strides in reducing teenage pregnancy despite COVID-19 pandemic, which engulfed the country in March 2020.
Available statistics from the Regional Health Directorate indicated that in 2018 the Region recorded 13.8 per cent rate of pregnancy among girls of ages from 10 to 19, 13.5 per cent in 2019 and 11.9 per cent in 2020, which was below the 2020 national average of 12 per cent.
Pognaa Rosemary Bangzie, Focal Person for Adolescent and School Health Services at the Regional Health Directorate, disclosed this at a Child Protection Committee meeting in Wa.
She said the Jirapa Municipality recorded the lowest teenage pregnancy rate of 7.2 per cent, while the Wa East District recorded the highest rate of teenage pregnancy of 18.8 per cent in the Region within the year under review.
Others were: Wa Municipality 8.1 per cent, Nandom Municipality 8.5, Sissala East Municipality 9.4; Wa West District 16.4, Sissala West District 14.1; Nadowli-Kaleo and Lambussie Districts 13.4 each, Daffiama-Bussie-Issa District 15.1 and Lawra Municipality 11.9 per cent.
Pognaa Bangzie noted that though the COVID-19 pandemic had had dire influence on the teenage pregnancy rate, the efforts of the health directorate with support from its partners had helped reduce the rate.
She said due to the school closure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with poor protection from some parents, girls engaged in activities that led them to become pregnant while others also got married within the period.
Pognaa Bangzie indicated that the health directorate, with support from Plan International Ghana, among other things, engaged in adolescent reproductive health education in 30 selected communities in some districts and municipalities in the Region.
The district and municipalities included the Wa and Sissala East Municipalities, Wa West, Wa East and Sissala West Districts.
She added that they also renovated nine Adolescent Health Corners in those districts and municipalities to help make adolescent sexual and reproductive health support services readily available to the girls in those areas.
She entreated parents to take the protection of their children, particularly the girls, very seriously to help prevent early pregnancy, which would distract their development.
Pognaa Bangzie urged them to provide the basic needs of their wards such as food, sanitary pads and educational materials to prevent them from seeking those needs from irresponsible men.
She also encouraged parents and guardians to take keen interest in knowing the kind of friends their wards followed and to advise them accordingly as peer influence could also lead to teenage pregnancy.