Poverty
Poverty

The future of many [female] teenagers in Africa has nothing promising to offer. Many of them get involved in premature sexual activities, which eventually pose threats not only to their general well-being but the development of their communities by extension. This is a major challenge as it weakens governments? efforts in providing quality public health service to the people.

Poverty

The Ghanaian Case

The 2010 population and Housing Census (PHC) in Ghana indicates that adolescents form 22.4% of the total population. Like in any other society, they are the future leaders of the country. ?They need to be provided with the right kind of improved health care services especially, reproductive health. Even though we are in the information age with advanced technological gadgets that can be used to easily access information, they lack access to adequate information to enable them make informed choices. The situation is worsen by poor parenting and poor communication between parents with some resorting to obtaining information from inaccurate sources.

?Though adolescents appear physically mature, their mental, emotional and intellectual growth and development tend to lag behind that of their physical development. Couple with the inability to control sexual desire leads to experimentation, hence, Adolescent Pregnancy and HIV/AIDS infections. Other causal factors include the search for economic gain, poverty, peer pressure among others.? [1]

According to Ghana Health Service (GHS, 2012) 750,000 teenagers between the ages of 15-19 get pregnant annually. In the Brong Ahafo Region, records from Ghana Health Service indicate that the Region, recorded 13.3% of adolescent pregnancy in 2012. The 2012 annual report of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), give HIV prevalence adolescents living in the urban areas (0.8%) than the rural areas (0.6%). From Demographic Health Survey (DHS, 2008), 27.7% of women aged 15-19 had comprehensive knowledge of AIDS, 68.8% knew a condom source and 15.5% had sex before age 15.

A study by the Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights (ARHR) has revealed that, age at first sex in some districts in Ghana is now as low as eight (8) years with both girls and boys keeping up to five concurrent sexual partners. The report pointed out, girls of fear of getting pregnant resort to the use of paracetamol with other mixtures.

Stories That Tell It All

*Mary Planam, a widow

?My name is Mary Planam. I got married to a rich farmer called Nana Boabeng in the Ashanti region of Ghana. My husband and I lived together for about 18 years. We have given birth to five children: four girls and one boy.
One day, the unexpected happened, my husband passed on. That was shocking to me because I had never thought of such a tragic event in my life. Being in this situation, I foresaw some challenges but never thought they would become problematic as they did?
After the burial ceremony of my late husband, his parents came and took away all his belongings and properties: the car, the lands and the house. I was left with nothing. I felt helpless and decided to leave our original town to settle down elsewhere with my five children. I was unable to provide my children with the necessary daily needs. Where to sleep was a problem. Food to eat was a burden on my head. I couldn?t pay their school fees. My children were sick and tired of this abysmal condition of living and decided to take their destiny into their own hands. My first daughter Davies and her other two younger sisters Gloria and Doreen aged 17,15 and 14 respectively would leave home in the evening and come back the following morning. They were having sex with men who would give them money in return. I had nothing to say because I was unable to meet their daily demands. Even in school, it was drawn to my notice they were sleeping with their teachers who would accord them marks for no work done.?

*Rosaline, a student

– ?Our parents cannot afford to meet our needs. They can?t buy us clothes. Many at times, they don?t give us money when we are going to school. At school we are spotted as the odd ones; that is the reason why we have decided to do this ?job? in order to cater for ourselves. It is not our fault.?

*Adjowa, a student

?Many of my schoolmates use mobile phones. Anytime I asked them where they got it from, they always say this to me ? ?Use what you have to get what you want?. And I never understood this statement until one day as I was searching for my pen in of one my friends? bag, I saw house attire [in her bag]. I asked her what that was but she told me nothing. In fact, she got annoyed. Along the line, I found out that, my friends, after classes will make use of an uncompleted building behind our school to change their uniforms and put on house clothing. Then they would visit a spot called ?For All? where Chinese men visit regularly for their usual convivial evening. There, these unscrupulous men will deceive my friends with a token of GHC 5, 10 or 20, so they could have access to their private part.?

The consequences of adolescent involvement in premature sexual activities are enormous, countless and inimical to the health and wellbeing of Ghana?s adolescent population as well as development in general.
Educationally, it results in school dropout as a result of pregnancy. Adolescent pregnancy and HIV/AIDS infection certainly truncate adolescents preparing for higher education (as statistics clearly show).
Medically, in the case of pregnancy for instance, it results in health complications including high incidents of low birth weights, prematurely born babies, some of whom become mentally retarded. It also results to transmission of sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) including HIV/AIDS as a result of unprotected sex.

Socially, relating to teenage pregnancy, it leads to high rate of attempted abortion, suicide and drug abuse, proliferation of bastard children with uncertain future and the increase in population characterized by a high dependency ratio. Concerning HIV/AIDS infections, it goes a long way to affect the society in which they live in terms of stigmatisation.

Economically, unemployment rate among young people will be on the rise. Unemployment has a negative impact on migration in Ghana in the sense that those adolescents [living in rural areas] move to cities in search of non-existing jobs creating sanitation problems especially, those who hawk around thereby putting pressure on social amenities and government expenditure. [2] We can go on and on…the direct and indirect consequences are enormous.

Notes:
[1]Adolescent Pregnancy-A Hindrance To Harnessing The Development Potential Of Young People In Ghana By Imoro T. Ayibani

[2] Adolescent Pregnancy-A Hindrance To Harnessing The Development Potential Of Young People In Ghana By Imoro T. Ayibani

References:
Ghana Health Service Annual Report (2012)
National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) Annual report,
From Demographic Health Survey (DHS, 2008

*The names in this article have been changed for privacy reasons.

 

 

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Isidore Kpotufe

Isidore Kpotufe,?is a blogger and commentator of African news. Follow him on twitter @Isidorelopez

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