Teenage Pragnancy: Cause of Maternal Deaths in Sierra Leone

Awoko  : a local reputable newspaper in Sierra Leone in its March 31, 2014 publication highlighted that:

The First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Sia Nyama Koroma, has said that 40% of maternal deaths occur as a result of teenage pregnancy. She made this statement at the formal opening of a policy dialogue meeting at the Bintumani Hall, Aberdeen, under the theme ‘curbing early marriage and protecting children’s right in West Africa.

Retrieved from: http://awoko.org/2014/03/24/sierra-leone-news-40-of-maternal-death-due-to-teenage-pregnancy-first-lady/

Teenage Pregnancy and Teenage Motherhood has taken a center stage in the lives of young girls particularly in Sierra Leone and the world over. Every year it is estimated that about 14 million adolescent girls give birth globally, this according to a (UNFPA ,2004) report on the state of the world Population.

In Sierra Leone, teenage pregnancy is one of the more pervasive problems affecting the health, social, economic and political progress and empowerment of women and girls. The issue to address is alarming and is reflected in the following national statistics: 34% of all pregnancies occur amongst teenage girls (SLDHS 2008), 26% of women age 15-19 have already had a birth (MICS 2010), 40% of maternal death occur as a result of teenage pregnancy (MICS 2010) and the untimely pregnancy of young girls is ranked as the third most common reason for them dropping out of school (UNICEF 2008). Girls especially in rural areas get married before the age 18years contributing to school dropout, teenage pregnancy, early child bearing leading to maternal and child mortality. According to the National strategy for the reduction of teenage pregnancy (2013), Early child bearing and teenage pregnancy is one of the most pervasive problem affecting, health, economic and political progress and the empowerment of women and girls in the country. In 2010, 7 % of girls 15-19 had a live birth before 15 years of age. In this age cohort, girls in rural areas were twice as likely to get pregnant before 15 years of age. (UNICEF Situation Analysis, 2011).

The problem:

Primarily, Teenage pregnancy has been identified as a booming problem in Sierra Leone. This is as a result of problems ranging from sexual behavior of girls and boys and the absence of reproductive health knowledge, early sexual exposure, poverty and family support structure, harmful traditional beliefs, Negative peer pressure, power relations and other undecided factors leading to an increase in Teenage Pregnancy and Teenage Motherhood in the Country.

Early marriage remains a vexing problem and a leading cause of teenage pregnancy in Sierra Leone. Among girls 15-19 years, 8 % were married before 15 years in 2010 compared to 15 % in 2005[1]. Girls in this age group in rural areas were more than twice as likely to be married by 15 years compared with girls in urban areas. At twelve to fourteen years of age, both boys and girls were increasingly regarded as adults eligible to transition to Junior Secondary School. In practice, however, many girls dropped out of school when they became pregnant or had married. Marriage often occurred following initiation into the Bondo Society. In many cases, the marriages were informal, hasty arrangements made because the girl was pregnant. Such marriages lacked the security and psychosocial supports that traditional arrangements had provided, and they left many girls at risk of abandonment and neglect. Boys, too, were increasingly regarded as adults since they had been initiated, showed deeper voice and physical maturity, were sexually active, and did the work of adult men.

In Sierra Leone, girls that give birth under the age 16 are more likely to die as a result of excessive hemorrhage, pre-eclampsia or to what many may refer to as obstructed labor. With an estimated population of about 5.6 million in Sierra Leone, 48% of whom are below the age of Eighteen Years (18) And this has led for Sierra Leone to be ranked last in the Human Development Index at 177th, with 38% of the population do not meet their food needs. (MICS, 2010). Teenage pregnancy and childbirth are the principal causes of both maternal and mortality rate in Sierra Leone for girls aged 14-17, accounting for every 60% of deaths associated with teenage pregnancy. (UNICEF, 2010).

In relation to the above situation, the government for Sierra Leone lunched a national strategy to address this normally in the country.

See below video:

The government is all on all people organizations, government department traditional leaders and parents, teachers, nurses to join the fight against the devastating ills of teenage pregnancy in teh country.

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