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Health Experts decry increasing Teenage Pregnancies in Nigeria

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Written by Ndidi Chukwu

With thousands of Nigeria teenagers dying from unsafe abortions and the increasing rate of teenage pregnancies, Association for Reproductive and Family Health has called for accessible family planning programme for Nigerian youths. This call came during ARFH’s  pre-conference  ahead of the 3rd Nigeria Family Planning conference, with the theme, “Bridging the Gaps between the knowledge and Practice of Family Planning”

Esther Agbarakwe Communication Officer for Association for Reproduction and Family Health, and Chair Youth Family Planning Committee, said a lot of issues related to family planning can be done by the families, as the family is the first learning place for the child, and youths who have become early mothers, due to lack of information about family planning.

“Youths have the largest population in human history, and in Nigeria majority of the population are youths, and if we don’t plan for these youths we are going to be in trouble” said Agbarakwe,

The emerging rate of teenage pregnancy according to Agbarakwe is as a  result of a society where youths make uninformed choices about their sexual activities, caused by misinformation and inadequate knowledge on prevention. “Planing is all about making sure that people have access to the right information, most parent don’t discuss sex with their teenage children at the end of the day, they go out and learn from their mates, when they do so, the outcome is what they bring home, early pregnancy” Agbarakwe maintained that it is safer for parents to discuss sex with their children, teach them to abstain, but where they cannot, preventive measure should be taught. She noted that the high rate of teenage pregnancies and female death related to unsafe abortion and complication occur due to lack of information, “When youths can’t plan very well everything about them is gone, we have to be frank, young people are having sex, we cannot deny it, if they have that sex without the correct information then we are in trouble”

“Teenage pregnancy is too much in Nigeria, how do we avoid teenage pregnancy, Agbarakwe said

Possible preventive measure could be the use of contraceptives to prevent early pregnancies, but issues around culture and society remains, but Adeola Olunloyo, programme analyst for UNFPA said, “A lot of socio-cultural issues stopping people from using contraceptives are driven by wrong perceptions by many social cultural injunctions, a lot of attitudes and wrong use of essential commodities are high” Nigeria’s policy is yet to capture youth’s access to family planing, Olunloyo said
“It is not a good attitude for anyone not to protect young people by giving them information about making choices that can protect them, from unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortion and even contracting HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases”

“It is our duty as parents teachers and communities to educate our youths, they are individuals who have rights, what we shouldn’t do to them is to keep them in the dark, they need life saving information” olunloyo said

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