Teenage pregnancy is becoming an emerging crisis amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, according to the Commission on Population (POPCOM).
POPCOM, in partnership with the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) Foundation Inc., led a virtual Dissemination Forum on the latest data on adolescent pregnancy and top concerns of women in the Philippines during the Covid-19 pandemic last February 17, 2020.
Social Weather Station Deputy Director Vladimir Licudine said that a nationwide survey on women’s concern and family planning that SWS conducted last November 21 to 25, 2020 showed that of the 1,500 respondents (18 years old and above), 59 percent said early teenage pregnancy is the current priority concern among women. This was followed by physical violence and unexpected pregnancy, both at 11 percent; sexual violence and emotional violence at 7 percent; and lack of access to family planning information at 4 percent.
Based on the survey, the concern on teenage pregnancy came out as top concern per geographical area with 51 percent of the respondents in Metro Manila; 60 percent of the respondents in the Visayas; 67 percent of respondents in Mindanao; and 56 percent of respondents in Luzon.
For his part, POPCOM Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez 3rd affirmed that teenage pregnancy is an emerging crisis amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said that from 2011 to 2019, teenage pregnancy have been increasing each year with Philippine Statistics Agency data showing 41,755 live births among teenage moms in the nine – year period and with the estimate of 29,478 more young mothers in 2020. With the projection of another 29,000 this year, POPCOM expects that teenage mothers will reach 133,000 from 2011 up to the end of 2021.
With such emerging concern, Perez stressed the need for a whole of government approach to address the imminent crisis, and for the whole community and society to get involved especially the family, parents, teachers and the media.
For the government, he said POPCOM and the Department of Social Welfare and Development are looking into a joint program that will help in the social protection of young mothers and their children.
Perez also called for legislative support for the issue, which PLCPD Executive Director Rom Dongeto also supported. Congress must look into an ideal law for teenage/adolescent pregnancy prevention and social protection law, Dongeto said.