Meeting to end teenage pregnancy at Charia held

Charia, a community in the Wa Municipality of the Upper West Region, has recorded 46 teenage pregnancies between January and September, 2019, records at the Charia Health Centre has revealed.

According to the midwife in charge of the facility, Madam Faustina Beyuo, the recorded cases were teenagers who had agreed to keep their pregnancy and had proceeded to seek ante-natal care.

“Some of them who come to the facility after testing positive refused to continue with ante-natal care because they were known in the area, others also assured us that they will come back after taking a decision as to whether to keep the pregnancy or not, but did not return to the facility anymore, and so these ones are not part of the record,” she explained.

The midwife was speaking on the sidelines of a community meeting of chiefs and people of Charia, organised by the assembly member for the area, Mr Stephen Naa, in conjunction with the National Commission for Civic Education and Community Development and Social Welfare Department in the Wa Municipality to solicit suggestions towards the drafting of a bye-law to end teenage pregnancy in the area.

Charia is one of the communities in the Wa Municipality which had recently been plagued with teenage pregnancy, which had become a source of worry to opinion leaders in the area, and the meeting was one of the several engagement sessions to tackle the menace.

When the Ghanaian Times visited the health centre before the meeting, about 12 teenagers and a teenage nursing mother were at the centre to seek various forms of healthcare services.

Madam Beyuo indicated that the worrying situation had not only earned a bad name for the community, it was also affecting the wellbeing of the girl-child as a lot of them had dropped out of school to stay in hiding for fear of stigmatization.

“Sometimes we have to create separate venues in order to get them to attend ante-natal services for fear of being stigmatized. We have collaborated with Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana to counsel them and also provide them with skills training to enable them earn a living for themselves,” she stated

Madam Beyuo lamented that some of them did not even have the basic items they needed to deliver because their parents sometimes rejected them when they got pregnant and the men responsible for the pregnancies also abandoned them.

 In an interview with the Ghanaian Times, one of the victims stated that she was a second year senior high school student, but had had to rely on a man for her upkeep and basic needs at school, and ended up getting pregnant.

“We are three girls and a boy in the family. My father does not take care of us because we are girls, and my mother cannot do it alone, so I got a boyfriend to help me with sanitary pads and other items, and got pregnant in the process. I don’t go to school anymore because my mates will laugh at me,” she said.

Mr Naah expressed hope in the functionality of the law, saying “this bye-law will help improve school attendance because as it stands now, attendance has been dwindling from the upper primary to the junior high level for girls.”

Programme Officer with the Community Development, Mr Clement Mol, said suggestions would further be considered by community leaders and stakeholders and sent to the assembly for passage into a by-law and subsequent gazetting to become functional.

Meanwhile, the chiefs and people suggested, among other things, the strengthening of existing watchdog committees and forming new ones in areas where there were none, to prevent movement of young people after 9 p.m.; families of girls who got pregnant and the men who impregnated them would be made to pay GH¢500.00  fine for community development; and children under 16 years would be barred from participating in entertainment activities that took place late in the night, after funeral and marriage ceremonies.

FROM LYDIA DARLINGTON FORDJOUR, CHARIA

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