POPCOM calls for prevention, social protection measures as more Filipino minors get pregnant
The latest civil-registry statistics for 2019 from the Philippine Statistics Authority revealed that births among girls ages 15 years old and below have gone up by 7%, compared to 2018.
This is the ninth year since 2011 that this figure has continued to rise, the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) warned.
The government agency noted that this increasing trend of younger girls giving birth has been observed in the last 11 years, as one out of every 10 pregnancies in the country has consistently been among teenagers during the same period.
In 2019, 2,411 girls considered as very young adolescents aged 10 to 14 gave birth, or almost seven every day. This was a three-fold increase from 2000, when only 755 from the said age group gave birth.
Overall, the number of Filipino minors who gave birth in 2019 increased to 62,510, which was slightly higher than the 62,341 minors in 2018.
One in three births among minors occurred in the three contiguous regions of CALABARZON (8,008), National Capital Region (7,546) and Central Luzon (7,523). Outside Luzon, the highest number of minors who gave birth were in Cebu/Central Visayas (4,541), Northern Mindanao (4,747), as well as the regions of Davao (4,551) and Cotabato (3,394).
According to Undersecretary of Population and Development Juan Antonio Perez III, MD, MPH, national government agencies working on poverty reduction under the leadership of Social Welfare Secretary Rolando D. Bautista have already prioritized teenage pregnancy reduction as an important landmark in the roadmap to reduce poverty.
He relayed that Congress has asked POPCOM to work with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, so that adolescent mothers who are minors as well as their children can be provided social protection, similar to the ones offered to older persons and victims of disasters. POPCOM and DSWD, together with other agencies, are looking forward to roll out this social protection program this year.
As a leading-edge effort to address this phenomenon, POPCOM’s executive director said that a number of local government units (LGUs) have already enlisted their participation to The Challenge Initiative—a tripartite partnership launched in November 2020 among POPCOM, the Zuellig Foundation and the Melinda and Bill Gates Institute—which will strategically tackle teenage pregnancy in many levels of communities all over the country. TCI will seek to address the root causes of the crisis besetting adolescents nationwide, while significantly bringing down numbers within five years.
“As a national and social emergency, the spread of teenage pregnancy across the archipelago still persists at an alarming rate,” stated Perez. “This requires more than a whole-of-government approach. Thus, we are calling on the private sector, LGUs, development partners and relevant government agencies to collaborate closely with us in arresting this social menace grappling our youth.”