TACLOBAN CITY – Teenage pregnancy cases in Eastern Visayas declined from 6.9 percent in 2017 to 4.9 percent last year.

But this figure is still considered by the population department as ‘alarming’ because of the high number of women getting pregnant at a very young age.

Data from the Commission on Population and development(Popcom) shows that of young women aged 15 to 19, the highest percentage of early pregnancy was recorded among 19 years old (13.3 percent), followed by 18 years old (5.9 percent), then 17 years old (5.6 percent), 16 years old (1.7 percent) and 15 years old (1.4 percent).

Young women getting pregnant early result in lesser economic opportunity due to lack of education as some of them tends to stop their schooling due to financial problem and at the same time have to attend to parental duties to their child, the agency said.

Last Feb.20, the United Nations (UN) and Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) launched the program to address the problem of teenage pregnancy cases in the region, particularly in the provinces of Samar and Southern Leyte.

The four-year project aims to improve the comprehensive sexual and reproductive health (SRH) of adolescents from the two provinces and their access to SRH services and information; raise self-awareness on SRH rights, as well as to enhance leadership and governance on adolescent SRH.

Based on the date the Philippine Statistics Authority, adolescent women who gave birth in Samar in 2022 reached to 1,093 while Southern Leyte recorded 484.

Rona and Anna, not their real names and both 18-years old living in a village about 10 kilometers away from the town proper of Basey in Samar province are among those who get pregnant at a young age and were forced to stop their studies.

“It will be difficult for me to find a good job because I didn’t finish school,” Rona said.
“I want to give my daughter a better future. Nowadays it will be difficult for me to find a good job because I don’t finish schooling” Anna, for her part, said.

Both young mothers are thankful that their partners and parents are supportive of their plan to go back to school.

Rona’s partner mother shares that she is convincing her to go back to school and even her son who only reached Grade 11.

Based on the study, early pregnancy results to a loss of P33 billion a year to the country’s economy, and P 83,000 a year in income to teenage mothers. This makes the Philippines ranked second among ASEAN countries with the lowest women labor force rate with 44 percent. (ROEL T. AMAZONA)