Babies having Babies in Belize Print E-mail
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Thursday, 07 November 2013 00:00

Launch of reportUNFPA Belize along with the Ministry of Health and the Youth Enhancement Services launched the State of the World Population report 2013 on Wednesday, November 6th, entitled Motherhood in Childhood - Facing the challenge of adolescent pregnancy, the document analyzes the problem of teen and pre-teen parents across the world.

According to Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Health, who gave the keynote address, the issue of, “adolescent pregnancy is a multifaceted problem that is based in poverty and ignorance." He stated that the Ministry of Health through its clinics and hospitals sees the consequences of young teenaged girls who's minds and bodies are not ready to give birth but who actually do, and when they do it is to often times premature and low weight children. He added that this is an increasing social and economic problem as often times babies are born with congenital malformations with incomplete development of different body parts. This situation causes medical complications that later on are causes of "immense not only social but also financial problems”.

More than that, Allen explained that the issue of teenaged pregnancy leads to complex social problems, such as poverty where the young mothers cannot nurture or educate their children and later on the problem becomes a cyclical one. In Belize he said, 20 percent childbirths are to mothers between the ages of 9 to 19 years. And, if the age 9 is an alarming one, Allen said that is the reality where there is at least one case of a girl aged 9 giving birth. "It is beyond comprehension, but it is a fact," he stated. While the 20 percent figure is what can be measured, Allen added that there are other births that are not reported and even worse there are instances where illegal abortions are done. Because of this then, he noted that there is not a real record of the total number of cases of teenage pregnancies. 

With such staggering statistics, Allen says that the solution to the problem is one of education, "countries that have addressed it have done so by addressing poverty and ignorance," he noted. For the Ministry of Health, the issue is one where they need to provide sexual and reproductive services which at times is difficult because, for example, the age when a teenager can seek medical attention on her own is 18 years while the age of sexual consent is 16. Still, Allen says that the solution lies in providing information to the young people in a comfortable and appropriate setting. This access to appropriate information would allow for a lower number of adolescent pregnancies and would offer opportunities for young boys and young girls to make the appropriate decision based on good quality information.
In concluding Allen pointed out that the subject, of young girls having babies is an uncomfortable subject but it is one that needs to be discussed and addressed.