by Linda Straker
Access to responsive sexual and reproductive health services, information and commodities, is one of the 5 priority areas outlined in a plan aimed at reducing teenage pregnancy in Grenada and other Caribbean islands by 2019.
The Integrated Strategic Framework (ISF) for the Reduction of Adolescent Pregnancy in the Caribbean was developed by Caricom in partnership with UNFPA, following a recommendation from the Caribbean Cooperation in Health (CCH III), which identified the reduction of adolescent pregnancy as an issue to be prioritized by Caricom Member States.
Addressing a national consultation on the ISF to reduce adolescent pregnancy in Grenada, Marvin Gunter, Programme Specialist at the United Nations Population Fund in Jamaica Office, explained that the ISF is a strategy geared towards addressing one of the key obstacles to young people’s growth and potential, particularly adolescent girls.
“The effective implementation of this strategy will serve to reduce adolescent pregnancy in the region and break the cycle of inter-generational poverty. Many things are being done. However if it is not coordinating, monitored and evaluated, it is really not done,” he warned stakeholders during the consultation, which was held at the Flamboyant Hotel Conference Room on Thursday.
“This process aims to address this coordination issue, which will result in revelation of gaps, increase in coherence, and thus the delivery of a robust comprehensive programme that guarantees universal access to health for our young people,” he said, while explaining that similar consultations will be held in other Caricom member states.
The other priority areas are:
- Access to age appropriate comprehensive sexuality education
- Social protection mechanisms for the prevention of all forms of violence against adolescent girls
- Legal Standards
- and Exchange of knowledge, information and good practices in addressing adolescent pregnancy
The rate of adolescent pregnancy in the Caribbean is among the highest in the world, with the birth rate for 15–19 year olds at 108 to 360 births per 1,000 women. In some countries like Guyana, for every 1,000 teen females aged 15–19, there were 68.3 births. Similar statistics are recorded in several OECS countries, Jamaica and Suriname, with an increase in the rural communities of most Caribbean countries. The rate for Grenada is 53 per 1,000 live births.
Gunter said that the plan provides access to services which will see improved and increase availability and utilization of information, and counseling for adolescents on sexual and reproductive health issues; Government along with other stakeholders having a structure in place for age appropriate, gender and culturally sensitive comprehensive sexuality education at all levels of the education system.
“On the legal side it will also provide for social protection mechanisms for the prevention of all forms of violence against adolescent girls, and applying legal standards that comply with international obligations,” he said.