BONTOC – Teenage pregnancy in Mountain Province is alarmingly increasing. Recent data from the Provincial Health Office revealed that there were 148 pregnant teenagers aging below 19 years old recorded for the first quarter covering the month of January to March 2014.
According to Health Education and Promotions Officer I Lily Anne Safilo of the Provincial Health Office, the municipality of Paracelis has the highest number of teenage pregnancy recording 39 individuals.
The capital town Bontoc listed 34 pregnant young people, Bauko recorded 17, Tadian has 16, Natonin recorded 14, Besao has seven, Sabangan and Sagada both recorded five, Sadanga has two and Barlig has one teenage pregnancy.
The data was submitted by the respective Rural Health Units (RHUs) to their office. Safilo added that those on the list are either studying or out of school youth.
In 2011, there were 289 teenage pregnancies recorded in the province. It continued to increase in 2012 with 310 pregnant young people recorded and 417 in 2013.
Relative to this, Supervising Midwife Mary Lee Piluden of the Provincial Health Office said that their office is intensifying its information education campaign (IEC) on “No to Early Sex” and practice of healthy lifestyle to the youth.
Piluden added that the health scouts organize in the school are their partner in advocating healthy lifestyle to their schoolmate. These include IEC on the disadvantages of pre-marital sex, drinking alcohol and smoking.
Furthermore, teen centers were established in Barangay Guina-ang and another one in Paracelis where youth volunteers were trained as peer counselors to help their fellow young people make right decisions.
Meanwhile, the Provincial Population Office in coordination with the Commission on Population- Cordillera Administrative Region (PopCom- CAR) is also intensifying its fight against increasing teenage pregnancies in the region.
These include the launching of the U4U Teen Trail supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) campaigning for “101XSX (Ex the Early Sex): 101 Ways to become Empowered Youth”.
In a separate interview with Marites Agageo of the Provincial Population Office, she said that the U4U teen trail was launched in the province last May. She elaborated that the campaign aims to involve youth in more responsible and productive activities for their families, school and communities that would eventually curb risky behavior and early sexual encounter that lead to teen pregnancies.
With this, the participants were actively joined in different activities and were informed regarding puberty, self-image, relationships, preventing pregnancy and gender-based violence, and youth advocacy. “Through structured learning exercises, participants also learned about myths and misconceptions on sex and sexuality”, Agageo added.
Moreover, the U4U Teen Trail also serves as a promotion vehicle to introduce teens to online and mobile tools. A dynamic website named u4u.ph. was created to help young people make decision about friendship and relationship.
Also, other program of the provincial government to develop skills and traits of the youth to be partner advocate in creating change to other young people include the youth summit and youth camp conducted by the Provincial Population Office.