The Young Men?s Christian Association (YMCA) has launched a teenage pregnancy prevention campaign in schools in the New Juaben Municipality at Koforidua.

YMCAThe project includes the involvement of teachers and pupils in basic schools in the Municipality to raise their awareness on the dangers of teenage pregnancy and how to sustain the campaign to reduce the incidence in the Municipality.

Last year, 615 out of the 9,960 girls enrolled in basic schools in the New Juaben Municipality got pregnant, and moreover the Municipality is also one of the urban areas in Ghana with high HIV prevalence.

Speaking during the launching ceremony in Koforidua, the New Juaben Municipal Chief Executive, Dr Kwaku Owusu Acheampong observed that teenage pregnancy was not just a health issue but a developmental issue deeply rooted in poverty, gender inequality, violence, child marriage and forced marriages.

He said the lack of education and the failure of systems and institutions to protect the rights of teenage girls were the conditions that helped to perpetuate teenage pregnancy in the society.

He regretted that despite the fact that the country?s educational system allowed pregnant girls to return to school after delivery, many girls did not take advantage of the policy to return to school.

He expressed appreciation to the YMCA for the project and commended the Ghana New Agency for raising the issue.

The Executive Director of Ghana YMCA , Mr Kwabena Nketia observed that Ghana could record worse figures than the current annual teenage pregnancy of 750,000 if policy makers, traditional authorities, Non-Governmental Organizations and other relevant institutions did not introduce serious interventions to reverse the trend.

He said the issue could negatively affect all efforts the country was making at promoting the welfare of the girl-child and the empowerment of the Ghanaian youth for that matter.

He said the project was a collaboration between Ghana YMCA and YMCA of Greater Toronto, Canada, and that its focus was on reducing teenage pregnancy through educational campaign targeting boys and girls of 19 years and below in Junior High Schools(JHS).

Mr Nketia said the project would run for four months and the young people would receive education and materials on various methods of prevention and avoidance of teenage pregnancy.

He said YMCA hoped to use the project to help reduce the incidence of teenage pregnancy in the Eastern Region and later extend it to other YMCA operating regions in Volta, Greater Accra, Ashanti and the Western Regions.

Mr Nketia appealed to religious organizations, especially churches, and the government to devote more attention to the issue of teenage pregnancy.

Earlier in a welcoming address, the Chairman of the Eastern Regional Branch of YMCA, Mr Fred Ohene called on all to support the project to succeed.

The National President of YMCA, Mr Kwame Gyimah Akwafo who chaired the function, observed that the high teenage pregnancy rate in the country was an indication of societal failure and called for collaboration between the district assemblies and other stakeholders to help curb the trend.

GNA

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