More healthcare coverage needed to tackle teenage pregnancy in hinterland

DPI, GUYANA, Friday, October 13, 2017

More emphasis and cooperation of medical practitioners are necessary to tackle teenage pregnancy in Guyana. This was underscored by Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO) Dr. Karen Boyle during a recent training programme for medical graduates on Thursday.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO) Dr. Karen Boyle.

According to the United Nations Population Fund – formerly the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) – the rates of teenage pregnancy in the Caribbean, particularly Guyana, is the second highest in both the Caribbean and Latin America; with 97 per 1,000 population as against 73 per 1,000, which is the average rate in the Caribbean.

Dr. Boyle explained that the regional variations within Guyana indicate that in the urban communities, there is a 10% teenage pregnancy rate as opposed to 22% in rural areas. In the hinterland areas such as Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine, teenage pregnancy is estimated at 40%.

The DCMO reported that the current rate of teenage pregnancy in the hinterland is as a result of insufficient universal primary healthcare services. She underlined the fact that the Ministry of Public Health must go the extra mile, to identify the bottlenecks to overcome this issue and ensure service delivery in these hard to reach communities.

Boyle opined that simply ensuring the availability of oral contraceptives at hinterland health centers might not necessarily be the best solution; since it is not feasible for teenagers to travel for days to access the nearest health center or district hospital. She suggested that the best-case scenario would involve scheduled medical team outreaches into these remote locations, to provide long-term contraceptive options.

Earlier this year, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Shamdeo Persaud observed that approximately 41% of teen mothers live with single parent mothers; another 24% reside with grandparents while about 7% live with a father alone.

The Ministry of Public Health, in 2016, launched the Adolescent Clinic Day/ Community Parenting Support Group in an effort to address teenage pregnancy.

 

By: Neola Damon

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