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Number of child-bearing teen-agers in Bicol doubles in 5-year period

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 23 — The number of teenagers in the Bicol region aged 15-19 who have begun childbearing and have given birth to their first child has doubled from 2006 to 2010.

This was disclosed Monday by an advocate of the reproductive health who based her allegation on the 2010 Family Health Survey of the National Statistics Office.

“While the rate of teen pregnancy in Bicol is lower compared to other regions, the doubling of incidence needs to be looked into and addressed,” according to Chi Laigo Vallido, advocacy specialist of Forum for Family Planning and Development, a non-government organization based in Quezon City but working in several provinces in the country, including Albay.

Vallido, however, did not give statistics for the five-year period.

She said her NGO admires the local government of Albay for engaging in reproductive health issues head-on amid the realities on teenage pregnancy, “that’s why we supported the First Adolescents Congress of the province and we hope that other provinces will also be inspired.”

Various student leaders from 15 towns and three cities of Albay convened in Sto. Domingo town for the First Adolescents Congress over the weekend where they discussed the pressing issues being faced by the youth today — such as reproductive health, education, poverty, substance abuse, disaster risk reduction and other issues affecting the youth here.

According Vallido, the Philippines has the highest cases of teenage pregnancy in Asia wherein 20 percent of maternal deaths came from teenagers.

Following the increasing case of teenage pregnancy across the country, at least 500,000 to 800,000 cases of induced abortion took place annually, according to the study, Vallido said.

“Before, the youngest teenage pregnancy reported was 15 years old but currently the youngest pregnancy occurrence is 12 years old,” she said.

An estimated of 14 to 15 women, Vallido added, die every day due to childbirth and pregnancy related complications in the country.

“Filipinos have fought for the passage of the RH Law for more than 14 years. With this delay, what does this mean for Filipinos who have been waiting for the RH Law?” she said.

“While Albay is lucky in the sense that their local leaders are determined to address adolescent RH issues, other provinces remain indifferent. That’s why we need to implement the RH Law now,” batted Nilda Devera of Health Action Information Network.

The RH Law or RA 10354 was signed into law by President Benigno Aquino 111 on Dec 17, 2012, however, the implementation of the enacted law was put on hold by the Supreme Court after anti-RH groups questioned the constitutionality of the law.

The court issued a status quo ante-order to hear the oral arguments between pro- and anti-RH groups. (PNA)

HBC/FGS/RBB/CBD/UTB

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