Davao Region teenage pregnancy rise blamed on lack of discussion on sexuality

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 9 July) – The rise in the number of teenage women getting pregnant in the Davao Region was blamed on the failure to encourage discussion on sexuality, an official from the City Health Office (CHO) said on Monday.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), in fact, reported that the Davao Region recorded the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the country at 17.9 percent based on the 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey.

Jeff Fuentes, chief of the CHO’s City Population, said during Kapehan sa Dabaw on Monday that the current culture here does not encourage open discussion on sexuality, resulting in teenagers not getting the right information and protective measures.

“It is really the lack of information because the culture of this country is very different from other countries. Sex is taboo. Hindi pinag-uusapan pero ginagawa (It’s not being talked about but it’s being done),” he added.

He said the lack of proper guidance would only lead the children, who are exposed to social media, including the malicious contents online, to engage in early sexual activities out of curiosity.

“Here, the environment is not really good. If you go to any pharmacies here and buy condom, what would be their reaction? They would already have their own judgment. The community itself is very discouraging for our very responsible behavior,” he added.

The PSA survey, administered on women aged 15 to 19 who have had a birth or were pregnant with their first child, showed that the teenage pregnancy rate in the region in 2017 was almost double compared to the national average at 8.6 percent.

At least 16 percent of the teenage women who have begun childbearing have had live birth and 2 percent were pregnant with first child at the time of the survey, the survey added.

The survey noted that the two other Mindanao provinces – Northern Mindanao (14.7 percent) and Soccsksargen (14.5 percent) – placed second and third highest, respectively, in terms of teenage pregnancy rate.

The PSA survey showed that teenage pregnancy figures for the remaining three Mindanao provinces were 7.5 percent for Zamboanga Peninsula, 8.2 percent for Caraga, and 8.5 percent for Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Of the 25,074 women surveyed for the NDHS, at least 5,120 were teenagers from 15 to 19 years old.

Commission on Population (POPCOM) regional director Bai Agnes Sampulna added they have already strengthened their program on adolescent health and development and information drive on sexuality.

She said they encourage academic institutions to be open about the discussion on sexuality because teenagers spend most of their time inside schools.

Sampulna added teen centers have already been established inside school campuses manned by trained guidance counselors to address the concerns of the students, including pregnancy and sexual activities.

They also encourage local government units to establish teen centers in communities, Sampulna said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)