Teen pregnancy trending down
Executive Director of the Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF), Dr Zoe Simpson, says the rate of adolescent pregnancy in Jamaica is trending down as a result of several interventions by the Government.
Simpson said research done by the centre showed the adolescent pregnancy rate in 1978 was approximately 31-32 per cent, compared to 18 per cent in 2008. She noted that the rate of adolescent pregnancy was being lowered, based on the recruitment patterns of the centre.
"About five years ago, we had about 1,500 girls registered in the programme across the island. After that we had 1,402, then 1,400, and then 1,376. Our last count was 1,288. We do not see all the girls, ... but then, we also keep a tab on the girls who do not access the programme, and we are really recognising that the numbers are trending down," she said.
The foundation was established in 1978 in response to the high level of adolescent pregnancies in the country at the time. It provides access to continuing education for adolescent mothers and the return of school-age mothers to school.
LOW RATE OF REPEAT PREGNANCIES
Simpson said that the second pregnancy rate among girls who participate in the centre's programme has remained below two per cent.
"The girls who come to the Women's Centre are less likely to have repeat pregnancies, as against those girls who do not come. That's the reason why we encourage girls to come to this programme of intervention," she said.
The executive director noted that the girls are equipped with skills "to be able to navigate the other issues that confront them, even beyond this pregnancy".
"So, we help them to recognise that they must get up. We will walk beside them, and we encourage the parents to do the same, and we encourage the wider society to do the same," she said, adding that the majority of the girls go back to school to complete their education.
Simpson said the centre has observed that girls are getting pregnant at a later age, between 16 years and 17 years, when they are out of secondary school.
"We really don't want to see the girls pregnant, so we are happy to see the numbers trending down, but there is a lot more work to be done," she added.