In Ghana, we seem to talk a lot more than doing the needful. This observation is made more prominent with the emergence of social media. Emergent issues easily take a life of their own by ‘trending’ on various media platforms and making the issue go beyond the traditional media channels.
One such trending issue is a report on teenage pregnancy in Ghana, which requires urgent attention on account of how prevalent it has become. Also, the issue requires attention because its impact on girl-child education has a negative trajectory that retards the nation’s developmental indices.
On March 17, 2021, a widely circulated publication by Ghana Health Service featured on various media channels and platforms, which gave a regional breakdown of teenage pregnancy cases in Ghana.
In the Ashanti region alone, 17,802 cases of teenage pregnancies were reported, which topped the other regions. The significance of the report is that just like the high figures released, the negative consequences of this phenomenon on society is also likely to be high, if no immediate interventions are put in place.
One way of mitigating this social menace is to outline a framework, which allows the victims to go back to school after given birth in an environment of acceptability and support. This, aside, the framework must also make room for holding accountable whoever impregnated the girls and ensuring that social justice is served with equity as the bottom line.
We are already battling with high graduate unemployment as a country, and putting a teenager in an unplanned family way increases the country’s risk of high unemployment rates. Dropout teenage mothers will eventually end up without employable skills or on the streets searching for greener pastures to fend for themselves and their children.
Pregnant teenagers also face a high risk of poor health outcomes for themselves and the unborn babies. Findings show that teenage girls in this condition have 45% higher risk of still births and 30% increased risk of losing their babies. It is also established medically that victims also have higher chances of going through caesarean sections at birth because the cervix is not fully settled to push out a baby.
As a long term measure, parents and teachers have to intensify reproductive health education in curtailing this upsurge of teenage pregnancy. The support of the media would be necessary if incidences of teenage pregnancy are to be minimised.
Having this number of Ghana’s future leaders drop out of school is not assuring, especially when there are tools and education materials to assist our young people in making responsible choices. Most critical here, is to realise that the campaign of abstinence, being faithful and condom use has not been effective in curbing teenage pregnancy.
Cases of teenage pregnancy continue to increase without any sign of reducing and with an already bulging youthful population in Ghana and Africa as a whole, it does not bode well for our development.
In December 2017, the country recorded 75000 cases of teenage pregnancy which has risen to 110,000 within a period of 4 years.
This situation could further slide downwards if proper and more realistic and research-based measures are not designed and deployed to take control of menace.
Various media platforms can be used to track and encourage victims of teenage pregnancy to go back to school or be placed in Entrepreneurial and skills development modules to help them fit into society where they can earn something for a living.
Eventually, the untoward consequences of a poorly managed sexual and reproductive health education will be costly to our nation. So, we either confront the issues proactively or wait to be consumed as a country by this problem.