PopCom: Teenage Pregnancy Now National Emergency; Wreaks Php33-B Losses


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PARENTS, watch your daughters!

That is, take good care of your children, in this case your teenage daughters, particularly.

And as Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young preached:

“Teach your children well.

“Their father’s hell

“Did slowly go by.

“And feed them on your dreams.

“The one they pick’s the one you’ll know by.”

Be keen for signs of trouble in your daughters, what you don’t know will hurt you later.

It’s because the Commission on Population and Development (PopCom)  has raised the alarm about pregnancy among teenagers: “Teenage pregnancy is now a national emergency.”

PopCom even requested President Rodrigo R. Duterte to issue an executive order declaring teenage pregnancy as a national emergency because the rates of incidence are disturbingly rising.

Consider also that the Philippines is going against the tide of teenage pregnancies, another reason this development has metamorphosed into one of the major national problems impacting Filipino children and the youth.

While adolescent pregnancy rates in most countries are going down, the opposite is happening in the Philippines. Figures are growing, the National Research Council of the Philippines of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-NRCP) cited figures from PopCom.

Teenage, pregnancy, national, emergency, losses
Image courtesy of DOST-NRCP project on teenage pregnancy. Figure 1.

And the problem’s impact is not only the Filipino families, it eats into the country’s progress, too.

As pointed out by PopCom Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez III as quoted by the NRCP, “teenage pregnancy significantly contributes to economic losses in the country” to the tune of Php33 billion.

Perez revealed this and other figures in his report on October 23, 2019.

His report showed that “about 1.2 million children are having their own children yearly, with 30,000 young mothers who have experienced repeated pregnancies.”

DOST-NRCP project on teenage pregnancy during disasters

Teenage, pregnancy, national, emergency, losses
Image courtesy of DOST-NRCP project on teenage pregnancy. Figure 2.

In 2017, the DOST-NRCP actually collaborated with the PopCom through a research project that explored the links and external factors of incidence of teenage pregnancies after November 8, 2013’s Supertyphoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) and 2014’s Typhoon Ruby in the case of Eastern Visayas.

Prof. Gloria Luz Nelson, a DOST-NRCP member and leader of the study, used the results in designing programs for teenagers during disasters.

The study had established a connection between natural disasters and the incidence of teenage pregnancies.

Nelson said in the aftermath of “Yolanda” the total of teenage population of Eastern Visayas registered “23.5 percent got pregnant, 29.9 percent had premarital sex, and 14.8 percent got pregnant and had another child the next year.”

“Ruby” had the same impact. “Data showed that 23.6 percent got pregnant, 32.3 percent had premarital sex, and 21.6 percent got pregnant the next year,” she added.

According to the study, whenever there are crisis such as natural disasters, families are evacuated, relocated or displaced. With the poor conditions of the temporary shelters where there are less provisions for privacy and security, adolescents, especially girls 10-19 years old, are considered a vulnerable group.

Eastern Visayas had recorded teenage pregnancy at two for every 10 youths (Fig 1), regardless of the severity of the disasters/typhoons. Moreover, most girls had their first boyfriend at age 15 , the age of initiation to premarital sex (Fig 2).

A total of 727 female youth respondents at 12 to 21 years old participated in the survey, who were households randomly picked.

Protocols and policies generated from the DOST-NRCP project

As an advisory council, the NRCP crafts research/evidence-based protocols and policies which are useful in policy-making, particularly in crafting House of Representatives legislation, as well as in aiding schools and government agencies in developing programs for the youth and the public in general.

The study that focused on the disaster shelter experience of those who participated in the survey gave the following results:

  • Length of stay of youths in disaster shelters is positively associated with the incidence of teenage pregnancy;
  • Adolescents in disaster-prone areas are likely to be molested;
  • The number of moves from one shelter to another prolonged the return of teenagers and youth to normal life; and,
  • The timeliness of the Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) programs, should mean age-appropriateness rather than grade-level appropriateness.

The NRCP disseminated the research output to all women legislators in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

In particular, the council submitted the results to Congresswoman Sol Aragones, a former TV journalist, as inputs to House Bill (H.B.) No. 4742 (Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Act of 2017) which she authored.

H.B. No. 4742 has no provision on the link of teenage pregnancy and disasters. NRCP recommended the inclusion of provisions that will address both sexual and non-sexual risk factors that increase the incidence of teenage pregnancy.

The results of the study was also compiled in the DOST-NRCP Policy Brief, A Special Series on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA), Issue 1 Q1 2017.

On August 6, 2019, the project of Prof. Nelson was featured in the Technology Media Conference at the Sequoia Hotel, Quezon City, and the NRCP Visayas Policy Forum at the University of the Philippines (UP) Visayas Tacloban College on November 3, 2017.

NRCP Executive Director Dr. Marieta B. Sumagaysay emphasized the importance of one of the recommendations of the research, the inclusion in H.B. No. 4742 a number of provisions designed to address both the sexual and non-sexual risk factors that give rise to the incidence of teenage pregnancy in times of disasters.

And if parents fail:

“Teach your parents well.

“Their children’s hell

“Will slowly go by.

“And feed them on your dreams.

“The one they pick’s the one you’ll know by.” (“Teach Your Children”, CSNY)


Image courtesy of OpenClipart-Vectors on Pixabay.

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