At least 10 million unintended pregnancies occur each year among adolescent girls aged 15–19 years in low and middle-income countries, including Nigeria, the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH), a multi-constituency partnership hosted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.
The organisation also noted that pregnancy and childbirth complications were among the leading causes of death among girls aged 15-19 years globally.
PMNCH Board Chair and former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark, made the disclosure in a statement, yesterday while announcing its 1.8 billion young people for change campaign conference.
He said that the conference would be held in October 2023 as the Global Forum for Adolescents.
He maintained that a rising global movement of 1.8 billion young people calls for greater attention to policy and financing for their health and well-being
“Adolescence is a critical stage of development, but between 2003 and 2015, only 1.6 per cent of development health assistance supported adolescent programming.
“The situation has been exacerbated considerably by the triple threat of conflict, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Ensuring high-quality sexual and reproductive care for adolescents and young people was high on the agenda this week at the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP2022) in Pattaya, Thailand.
“Approximately 12 million girls aged 15–19 years and at least 777,000 girls under 15 years give birth each year in developing regions.
“At least 10 million unintended pregnancies occur each year among adolescent girls aged 15–19 years in low and middle-income countries, while pregnancy and childbirth complications are among the leading causes of death among girls aged 15-19 years globally.
Clark stressed that due to age-related stigma, discrimination and unclear or restrictive laws, adolescents are particularly at risk of having unsafe abortions.
According to him, of the estimated 5.6 million abortions that occur each year among adolescent girls aged 15–19 years, 3.9 million are unsafe, contributing to maternal mortality, morbidity and lasting health problems.
Vice Chair of the PMNCH Strategic Advocacy Committee, and Co-Chair of the Programme Action Group for the Global Forum for Adolescents, Sahil Tandon, said that more often than not, policies and programmes are developed and designed for young people, and not by young people.
YIELD Hub Manager and a Board Member at PMNCH, representing the adolescent and youth constituency, Dr David Imbago, stressed the need for policymakers to ask their constituents what young people want, work across sectors and adopt a comprehensive approach to adolescent well-being.