$117M project to reduce adolescent pregnancies in Guyana

─ govt aims for 10% reduction in adolescent pregnancies by 2022

 ─ Indigenous communities record highest percentage of teenage pregnancies

─ Min. Lawrence along with representatives of India-United Nation Development Partnership Fund Project signed a pact earlier today

By Alexis Rodney

DPI, Guyana, Friday, June 7, 2019

With Guyana recording the highest rate of adolescent pregnancies in the English-speaking Caribbean, the Ministry of Public Health has vowed to see an annual 10 per cent reduction by the end of 2022.

Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence said the government has prioritised the issue which has been plaguing the country – especially communities in the hinterland regions.

The minister, along with representatives of the India-United Nation Development Partnership Fund Project signed a $117M pact earlier today, committing to a partnership to stamp out the social scourge in Region 1 (Barima-Waini) and Region 9 (Upper Takatu-Upper Essequibo) by 2022.

“The startling statistics reveal that Guyana has the highest rate of adolescent pregnancies in the Caribbean, our adolescent fertility rate being above average especially among our indigenous girls- 74 in every 1000 in Regions one, seven and nine in the 15-19 age group,” Minister Lawrence told officials at the Sophia Exhibition Complex earlier today.

She said the recently conducted situational analysis on adolescents, points out that, compared to the other ethnic groups, the Indigenous People show the highest percentage of teenage pregnancies. Some contributory factors include lack of access to contraceptives and comprehensive sexual education, early sexual activities and risky sexual behaviours, cultural differences and poverty among others.

The findings of the situational analysis galvanised the ministry to take urgent action which has resulted in the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Minister Lawrence noted that teenage pregnancy remains a major bugbear. However, the grant from the Indian Government will provide finance that will improve access to Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Education.

UN Resident Representative, Mikiko Tanaka, in her welcoming remarks, related that the project is most welcomed at this time, as she looks forward to its resounding success.

Alison Drayton, Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean, said Guyana’s 10-24 years age group accounts for 31 per cent of the population.

The UNFPA, she informed, has been rolling out initiatives across the Caribbean to reduce the incidences of pregnancies among adolescents.

Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Venkatachalam Mahalingam believes the launch is most appropriate.

Images: Ameer Sattaur