The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has called on Queenmothers in the Upper East Region to help end teenage pregnancy and child marriage.
It said teenage pregnancy and child marriage were hindering the progress of the youth in the region and required collective efforts from stakeholders, including queen mothers to curb the menace.
Ms Yvonne Wonchua, the Focal Person, UNFPA, Upper East Regional Coordinating Council, made the call at a review on the training of Queenmothers from six selected districts, on ending teenage pregnancies in their respective areas.
It was part of a three-year project implemented by the UNFPA in collaboration with the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council with financial support from Global Affairs Canada.
It was to empower traditional authorities to play critical roles to address adolescent reproductive health issues.
The beneficiary districts, included Bongo, Kassena-Nankana West, Bawku West, Builsa South, Talensi and Nabdam.
Ms Wonchua explained that young girls needed to know their reproductive rights to fight for them and the Queenmothers could help in achieving the goal.
She said for the country to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), women and girls needed to be empowered with the required reproductive health rights to create gender equality and boost their wellbeing.
Madam Dora Kulariba, a Public Health Nurse, Regional Health Directorate, said since the implementation of the project in 2019, there was an improvement in the teenage pregnancy indicators in the beneficiary districts, however, more needed to be done.
She noted that although the region recorded a slight increase in teenage pregnancy in 2019 from 15.8 per cent in 2018 to 15.9 per cent in 2019, it reduced to 15.4 per cent in 2020, which was still higher than the national acceptance rate of 11 per cent.
Madam Kulariba, who is also the Regional Adolescent Health Coordinator, said among the six districts implementing the project, Bongo recorded a greater impact by reducing its teenage pregnancy rate from 20.6 per cent in 2018 to 20.5 per cent in 2019 and further down to 17.2 per cent in 2020.
However, Nabdam District led the regional charts increasing from 20.4 per cent in 2018 and 21 per cent in 2019 to 22.9 per cent in 2020.
She said while the Talensi District recorded a decrease in teenage pregnancies from 21.2 per cent in 2018 to 17.8 per cent in 2020, Builsa South District recorded an increase in the same period from 17.9 per cent to 21.1 per cent.
“The Kassena-Nankana West District recorded 16.5 per cent in 2018 which increased to 18.1 in 2019 and fell to 17.4 per cent in 2020.
Bawku West District recorded a marginal increase over the three years from 19.7 per cent and 19.5 per cent to 20 per cent,” she added.
The Regional Adolescent Health Coordinator said a collective effort would help reduce teenage pregnancies and to secure a better future for girls.
Mrs Georgina Aberese-Ako, the Acting Regional Director of the Department of Children, explained that parent-child communication was key to unearthing the challenges facing adolescents and addressing them.