Chiefs and Elders of Gomoa-Assin Akyempim traditional area, in the Central region have descended heavily on parents especially mothers, for the high rate of teenage pregnancy in the area. Nana Kofi Asanhonmah (IV), the Odikuro of the area last Tuesday in an interview with this reporter bemoaned parent’s lackadaisical attitude towards their children, saying “we as elders of the land have a big problem on our hands.
Teenage pregnancy is gradually becoming part of us, and the first people to blame are the mothers of these young teenagers. They do not care about the upbringing of these young girls. They only tell them to make surethey close their doors after returning from town at midnight, without enquiring from them where they have been. When the fathers complain, they quarrel with them.
Many women here would prefer divorce than their husbands disciplining their teenage daughters”. According to Nana at a point in time he had to involve the police in ensuring discipline was maintained in the town. “…how can a child at the age of ten years go and spend about two weeks with a man. Those taxi drivers at Apam Junction arrange with these small girls, and all you know is that they are gone; negatively impacting on their education. So finally in a consensus with my elders we passed a law to make sure that every child of school going age would remain in school, or else we fine any parent culpable of the decree“.
Mrs. Sarah Sarkwah, the Public Health Nurse at the Gomoa West District Health Directorate, also expressed concern about the situation, though statistics indicate a slight fall in the teenage pregnancy rate in 2014 as compared to 2013.She stated that in 2013, there were 26 pregnancies among girls aged 10-14 years, and 889 among those aged between 15-19 years. In 2014 however the figures dropped slightly to 15 for 10-14 year-olds and 744 for 15-19 year-olds. She also indicated that the family planning accept or rate although quite low rose from 27% in 2013 to 28.3% in 2014.
These were revealed at a Family Planning and HIV Prevention Programme organized in the Gomoa Akyempim Traditional Area by Health Keepers Network an Accra based NGO last Tuesday. During the programme residents were educated on Family Planning, Sexually Transmitted Infections including HIV, and Safer Sexual Practices. Family planning commodities such as male and female condoms,the oral contraceptive pills and other health protection products such as ORS, zinc tablets and water treatment tablets were also made available at the programme.
Certificates were also presented to 23 Family Planning Community Based Distributors, both men and women, who had successfully completed a three-day training programme organized by the Health Keepers Network on Family Planning, HIV Prevention, Diarrhoea Management and other issues of publichealth importance.
These Community Based Distributors, known as ‘Health Keepers’,will in turn be educating members of their communities and providing them with these lifesaving health products. Mr. Daniel Mensah, the Executive Director of the NGO, believes the initiative would help address the current situation in the area, especially when Health Keepers Network’s youth centered programme is introduced in the district.
The NGO runs a youth programme which aims at increasing access to information on sexual and reproductive health among young people to bridge the knowledge gap,achieve behavioural change and contribute to addressing some of the current crisis especially the increasing rate of teenage pregnancies, high incidence of STIs, HIV and AIDS facing the youth.
According to him, the NGO, had already trained over 160 students,as peer educators in the Ga-South Adentan Municipalities and other districts on Adolescent Fertility Management, Abstinence, STI prevention and Youth Friendly services.
He hinted further that plans were far advanced to extend the initiative to the Gomoa area. The USAID funded NGO, according to Mr. Mensah, introduced protector and CD plus condoms to the youth during the outreach, due to their dual protection role; protecting one from sexually transmitted diseases and preventing unwanted pregnancies.
Mr. Luis Ammoussou, the District’s Director of Health Services for Gomoa West on his part also said he was pleased with Health Keepers Network’s intervention in his district and as a result pledged his support . The community Development Director in the Area, Mr. Frank Amankrah on his part expressed gratitude to HKN for their educational support to the community and however admonished the trainees and the youth to embrace “the remarkable initiative of Health Keepers Network”.
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