Commercial Sex Fuels Disturbing Surge in Teenage Pregnancies Across Upper Manya Krobo

by Louisa Afful
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 A recent Ghana Health Service report reveals that Upper Manya Krobo district now ranks second nationwide for teenage pregnancy prevalence, with a 17.8% rate recorded in the first quarter of 2024. This district has seen fluctuating but persistently high rates over the past few years, previously topping the list in Ghana and the Eastern Region. The District Health Directorate attributes this alarming trend to several factors, primarily adolescent girls engaging in transactional sex with older men for financial support, alongside high poverty rates, poor parental support, and the influence of Western lifestyles.

The District Chief Executive for Upper Manya Krobo, Joe Sam, addressed Assembly members expressing deep concern over the situation. “This current situation is quite alarming and most disturbing and therefore requires the effort of all of us to help address the issue,” he said. He emphasized the need for a collective effort to tackle the problem.

In response, the District Health Service, in collaboration with JOICFP, has intensified outreach programs to improve access to sexual and reproductive health services for the youth. Additionally, the Assembly has allocated office accommodation to support these initiatives.

The Upper Manya Krobo District is also among eleven districts in the Eastern Region selected to benefit from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) 8th Country Program, which aims to reduce child marriage, gender-based violence, and maternal deaths. Faisal Bawa, Program Analyst for UNFPA’s Gender-Based Violence Unit, noted that child marriage significantly contributes to adolescent pregnancies, with over 100,000 cases reported annually in Ghana. This issue has severe consequences for the development, health, and education of adolescent girls.

Key stakeholders, including Social Welfare, the Department of Gender, and the Ghana Health Service, have been urged to collaborate with UNFPA to accelerate actions addressing these issues. Such high rates of teenage pregnancy raise significant concerns for the country’s development, health, and education sectors, emphasizing the urgent need for comprehensive and sustained intervention.

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