The Executive Director of the National Population Council (NPC), Dr Leticia Appiah, has intimated that Ghana’s failure to aggressively tackle issues of teenage pregnancy is entrenching the poverty cycle in the country.
Speaking in an interview, Dr. Appiah indicated that the continuous issues of teenage pregnancies; child marriages, and high-risk pregnancies in the country continue to hamper national development. She also noted that these issues also hamper improved living standards of the people and urged that such must be prioritised and dealt with.
Dr. Appiah further disclosed that, the long term negative impact of teen pregnancy, child marriage and high-risk pregnancy; compounded by the impact of COVID-19, has contributed to creating a dent on the national coffers.
Tackle Social Issues
She said, unlike the COVID-19 pandemic, which the State had little or no control over, the state has a choice to confront social issues like teenage pregnancies that affect the living standard of the citizens.
“The pandemic we are dealing with was not a choice. However, we chose to avoid confronting child marriage, teen pregnancies, and high-risk pregnancies whose consequences are felt, in health, education security, on the environment, and industrialisation just to mention a few.
“Neglecting the problem not only adds on numbers but entrenches the poverty cycle among the numbers thereby creating more poorer people who contribute less to national development but who consume more in all social sectors.”Leticia Appiah
Finding Solutions To The Concern
Dr.Appiah then, questioned if the nation was going to find solution to the growing concerns the country is experiencing. She subsequently encouraged that the interconnectivity of life should guide one’s approach to development.
“Are we ever going to come out of poverty by either perpetuating cultures that do not harness human capital? But rather produce poor people or we will look on for these negative phenomena to continue?
“As humans, our lives are all interlinked and interconnected… it should therefore guide our approach to development at all levels from policy to the home. What we are encouraged to do at home or not ultimately affects the national budget, our salaries, and ultimately our collective quality of life.”
Teenage Pregnancy, A Health Emergency
Recently, the NPC indicated that high risk pregnancies, child marriages and teenage pregnancy have become public health emergencies. This, the council said, needs strong policy intervention and multi-stakeholder approach to address.
Furthermore, the council states that pregnancy in teenagers is a major contributor to child and maternal mortality, which reduce human productivity and burden the economy.
“Our growth rate is our main problem. Risky pregnancies sustain poverty. Many of our people are consumers and unfortunately, we do not have adequate investment to address basic needs. We just have to fix our population structure and all other things will fall in line.”
The NPC noted that, effective population management is the most cost-effective approach to running the nation’s economy. And as such, teenage pregnancies and child marriages should be addressed the same way roads’ issues are addressed and fixed.
NPC therefore, called on religious bodies; civil society organisations, parents, traditional and opinion leaders to sensitise the communities against teenage pregnancy and child marriages.