Reproductive and maternal care project launched in Trelawny
Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
WESTERN BUREAU:A US$100,000 Community Health Awareness for Adolescent Reproduc-tive and Maternal Care (CHAARM) project was officially launched at the Falmouth Public Hospital in Trelawny last week against the background of the parish's 39 per cent teenage-pregnancy rate.
The project seeks to raise awareness of critical adolescent maternal and reproductive health issues and increase access to care among at-risk youth in the parish of Trelawny. Trained youth health aides will carry out community-based outreach education and a mobile health campaign throughout the project's lifetime.
The CHAARM initiative was launched by INMED Partnerships for Children and was funded by MSD For Mothers Program, a health-care company which seeks to prevent maternal mortality. It will also be implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.
Medical officer of health for Trelawny Dr Lisa Wisdom said the parish is ranked among the top four with the highest teen-pregnancy rate in the island.
"The parish has had a high rate of teen pregnancy, but we are seeing a gradual reduction. I am happy for this programme as it seeks to educate and empower adolescent males and females to really take charge of their sexual and reproductive health," she said.
She stressed the legal implications associated with girls under the age of 16 being impregnated, pointing out that in some cases, it was by older men, and to a lesser extent, teenage boys.
"We sometimes find that teenage boys become fathers, but a whole different attitude pervades. While the girls are thrown out, in some cases, boys are celebrated, especially when they can boast of having more than one sexual partner," she said.
Executive director of INMED, Linda Pfeiffer, said the project would not only have local impact, but would also factor into the global response to adolescent maternal and reproductive health issues.
CHILDREN, YOUTH RESCUED
"Part of INMED rescues children and youth at risk, those who have been neglected, to prevent them from contracting communicable diseases and help them to build a brighter future," Pfeiffer said.
Vanessa Lugo, policy and communication director for MSD For Mothers Program, said her company would offer full support to the project as research indicates that when a mother dies, in many instances, the child dies.
"Our aim is to reduce unintended pregnancy among teens and the cases of adolescent maternal mortality," she said.
Coordinator of the CHAARM Project, Venisha Brown, explained that it aims to educate and create behaviour change among 3,000 teens by the end of 2013.
"This is being undertaken by our trained youth health aides who are drawn from the National Youth Service. These persons have been effective so far, having reached 474 persons," she said.
'Part of INMED rescues children and youth at risk, those who have been neglected, to prevent them from contracting communicable diseases, and helping them to build a brighter future.'