The Ghana Health Service has over the past three years recorded an increase in teenage pregnancies in the Wassa East District, with a total of 10,038 pregnancies out of which 1,645 are teenagers.
The situation has been attributed to sexual exploitation of teenagers by small scale miners, irresponsible parenting, lack of sex education and family planning.
Addressing a durbar of chiefs and people of Sekyere-Hemang in the Wassa East District, to mark this year’s Africa Union Day for the Child, Madam Patience Otoo, District Public Health Nurse, said in 2012, the Service recorded 3,305 pregnancies in health facilities in the area, out of which 527 were teenagers representing 15.5 per cent.
The event, organised by the Health Service and funded by World Vision International, was under the theme: “Twenty-five years after adoption of African Unions Charter-Accelerating our collective efforts in ending early marriage and teenage pregnancy in Africa”.
In 2013, a total of 3,618 pregnancies were recorded out of which 587 were teenagers aged between 10 and 19 years representing 15.1 per cent.
She said 3,115 pregnancies were recorded in 2014, out of which 534 were teenagers, representing 17.1 per cent whiles 1,397 pregnancies had been recorded in the first half of the year, with 277 teenagers, representing 20 per cent.
Madam Otoo said the Service would soon roll out adolescent youth clubs in some communities to undertake sex education, family planning practices and other health-related issues.
She appealed to the clergy, teachers, assembly members, civil society organizations and the chiefs to join the efforts to reduce the current trend of teenage pregnancies in the area.
Nana Kweku Wereko Ampem, the Abusuapanyin of Sekyere-Hemang, suggested that correctional centres, popularly called “Nkodaboni”- used in the past to rehabilitate stubborn youth, be revisited so that obstinate teenagers would be sent there for rehabilitation and training.
He urged the officials of the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service and the Social Welfare to severely punish men who impregnate teenagers to serve as deterrent to others.
Mr Edward Armah, a representative from the District Education Directorate, said the Unit would intensify sex education in schools and urged parents not to shirk their responsibilities towards their children.
Some participants suggested that, it was the duty of the parents and teachers to provide the needed moral education at home and appealed to government to re-introduce caning at the basic level.
They also appealed to the traditional authorities in the area to ban teenagers from watching movies at the various cinema centres, as explicit sex scenes are shown in those movies, which influences some youth to engage in early sex.