CARICOM approves adolescent Pregnancy Reduction Plan

CARICOM approves adolescent Pregnancy Reduction Plan
This young girl from Haiti faces a higher risk of obstructed labour than a woman giving birth in her 20s. * Photo credit: WHO/A Waak
This young girl from Haiti faces a higher risk of obstructed labour than a woman giving birth in her 20s. * Photo credit: WHO/A Waak

CARICOM’s Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) has approved a strategy to reduce the number of adolescent pregnancies in each country of the English and Dutch speaking Caribbean by at least 20 percent over the five year period 2014 – 2019.

The plan was developed by a multi-sectoral regional task force led by UNFPA in collaboration with the CARICOM Secretariat.

COHSOD commissioned development of the strategy after the Caribbean Cooperation in Health identified adolescent pregnancy as an issue to be addressed and treated as a priority by CARICOM Member States. The CCH is the mechanism of CARICOM responsible for uniting the Caribbean territories in a common goal to improve the health and well-being of the people of the region.

It is estimated that around 20 percent of women in the Caribbean have had at least one child by the age of 19. Furthermore a considerable percentage of adolescent girls give birth before the age of 15. Available data indicate that girls who become pregnant at 15 or younger are more likely to experience premature delivery, low infant birth weight, prenatal mortality and health problems with their new-borns. Additionally, pregnant adolescents are more likely than adults to have unsafe abortions, while their education is also likely to be interrupted.

Expected results of the plan include ensuring that all adolescents have access to age appropriate, accurate information as well as quality sexual and reproductive health services and commodities; access to age appropriate, comprehensive sexuality education for young people in and out of school; implementation of social protection mechanisms for the prevention of all forms of violence against adolescent girls and boys, especially the poorest and most marginalized; and the adoption of common legal standards across the region concerning age of marriage and consent; prosecution of perpetrators of sexual violence; and access to social protection and sexual and reproductive health services. It is also expected that by 2019, Caribbean governments will systematically exchange knowledge, information and adopt practices that will address the social factors that influence adolescent pregnancy.

Dr. Morella Joseph, Programme Manager for Human Resource Development at the CARICOM Secretariat said that the strategy reflects the realities and perspectives of the people of the region and as such, represents an effective multi-faceted approach to achieving the objective of reducing adolescent pregnancy.

“It is the culmination of a series of consultations involving a broad range of stakeholders including adolescents and youth. The inputs received at all stages were taken into consideration and informed the final version.”

UNFPA Director Sheila Roseau said the UNFPA was pleased to lead the development of a coherent strategy for the reduction of adolescent pregnancy.

“The strategy will allow adolescent girls to fully exercise their rights to reproductive health, education and security; to grow to their full potential and to contribute to the development of the region. Since the process of developing the strategy was a collaborative one, I hope countries will implement it with the urgency the issue demands,” she said.

CARICOM will monitor the implementation of the strategy; identify and coordinate country and regional level needs for technical assistance. CARICOM will also serve as knowledge broker for South-South cooperation, sharing of best practices on addressing adolescent pregnancy and in identifying high level technical expertise. Select international organizations, including UNFPA will collaborate with CARICOM on these activities.


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  1. Heres an idea...speak to our children about the reality of sex, without shame, as a part of growing up and adulthood. Teach them how it works, where babies come from, how to protect themselves, where to go for birth control and make ourselves available to talk to when they have questions. Growing up in St Lucia, our parents condemn sex even when it is in every aspect of our lives, we have Carnival, where people walk near naked in the street and gyrate on each other, but parents make most of us feel like we should be ashamed for being sexual human beings.


  2. So the uk has a problem with teenage pregnancy I guess Caricom shouldn't do something about theirs?The Caricom region is it's own area it would be wise to not emulate the UK or the USA or any other area in the world. Make your own decisions on what affects you as a region. A high rate of teenage pregnancy by first generation migrants to our shores because there is a false notion that it will all be taken care of . First world countries have made some huge mistakes in these area, when I l worked in Australia I had a son there and the government awarded his mother and I. What is termed a " baby bonus" of ten thousand dollars. They soon realised that young people and older disadvantaged people were having babies just to get the baby bonus as you got it every time you had a baby. Yes at the time they wanted to increase the population of young people in Australia but I didn't think paying people to have babies ( that's what I see the baby bonus as) is the right thing. You ended up with lots mon socially irresponsible people having children, not thinking long term that ten k couldn't scratch your babies nose and if you don't have a job or don't want to work then long term you have a baby who you need to feed. So they fell onto the benefit system and living in government housing and angry at society and the world of where they are, these government housing areas in turn are havens of crime , drug related issues etc and becomes a vicious cycle of poverty , lack of education and baby making.

    I have one child and didn't have him until I had a job, until I had a house, until I was mature mentally ( my level of mental maturity is still debatable) to have him . I came from a huge family my father is British Saint Lucia and god he knows how to breed, he tells me if he was a more educated man he would have made a few different choices in life rather than having 6 kids like his parents. I also think from my experience that there is a view that if you don't have a child you are not a man, my brother constantly tells me have another child. I'd rather have a vasectomy to be honest. Children are expensive my son costs $50k a year for education, clothing, holidays,medical, entertainment etc. It's hard work being a parent and it can knock you for life if you are not prepared. Education is key on all levels, I tell my nieces and nephews in their late teens, get an education first, if you have a degree and then have a child and things don't work out in your relationship etc at least you have something to fall back on. You have an education which can assist you with employment etc to help you along the way in life.


  3. It is estimated that the UK, has the highest teenage pregnancy rate (the world over)
    And we're talking about a so-called "advanced" society.

    I don't see how the plans outlined in this article can address any of those ills, other than teaching your children from the HOMES (they may have said it in the article)


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