The nation has been alarmed with the results of the 2019 Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Data particularly on teen births which was released by the Philippine Statistics Authority very recently. Out of the 1.6 million total livebirths recorded in 2019, there were 62, 341 births among minors where 2, 411 of which belonged to young girls below 15 years old.

These national figures indicate a seven percent increase in teen pregnancies from 2018 to 2019 or about 7 babies are born among young girls every day.

On contrary, the number of teen pregnancies in region 1 has slightly declined from 8, 335 in 2018 to 8, 070 in 2019. Cumulatively, more than 8, 000 births were delivered among girls aged 12-19 years old.

The youngest teen mom recorded in the region is aged 12 from the province of Pangasinan— which has also the greatest number of teen pregnancies (5, 130). This is followed by the provinces of La Union with 1, 183 teen births; Ilocos Sur with 911 and Ilocos Norte with 846.

National surveys–the Young Adult Fertility Study (YAFS) in 2013 and the National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) in 2017, have noted common characteristics of teen mothers: they are situated in rural areas, they have primary education, and they belong to the poorest households.

The lack and wrong source of information, increased pre-marital sexual activities, “biglaan” or unplanned sex which commonly happens at home, exposure to the internet, younger age of menarche, dysfunctional families, lack of access to reproductive health and other elements such as exploitation, contribute to the glaring increase of teenage pregnancy nationwide.

POPCOM has yet to find out the impact of the 2020 pandemic as to the number of teen pregnancies once official data will be released by the PSA, hoping that it has a significant deterrent effect.

This teenage problem has become a national health emergency that needs a whole-government approach. POPCOM has been working relentlessly on linking its adolescent health programs with the local government units (LGUs) and other government and non-government agencies to prevent and reduce teenage pregnancies. The integration of the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in the school curriculum has taken its step in October last year. POPCOM strongly promotes the empowerment of the young people through age-appropriate sexual and reproductive health education.

Our partnership with the Department of Education through a Memorandum of Understanding signed on January 2021 will deliver better and accessible information and services among learners, teachers and parents. We need to empower our adolescents and youth so that they can make responsible decision-making,” said POPCOM Regional Director, Erma R. Yapit.

While POPCOM has long been waiting for the passage of the House Bill 5516, or the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Act of 2019 that would institutionalize a national policy for inter-agency and intersectoral collaboration to address the various determinants of teenage pregnancy, it has engaged into a tripartite partnership with the Zuellig Foundation and the Melinda and Bill Gates Institute early this year for the so-called, The Challenge Initiative (TCI). The project, which aims to leverage existing platforms to harmonize strategies on the reduction of teenage pregnancies in the cities, has solicited commitments of local chief executives to establish youth-friendly communities.

The agency will also work with the Department of Social Welfare and Development to develop programs for the social protection of teen parents and their children as an after-care to provide a continuing education, social amelioration, and health care services.

These, among other regional programs and activities, adhere to the promotion of sexually healthy and personally empowered adolescents.” Pregnancy does not need to be soon. Let us prepare our vulnerable and very young adolescents to become more responsible adults and productive citizens of our communities,” Dir. Yapit concluded.