#SoMe4AYRH: It’s Time We Talk About Teenage Pregnancy | Jessica Madrazo

#SoMe4AYRH: It’s Time We Talk About Teenage Pregnancy

by | Jul 26, 2018 | Advocacies

On the 28th of June 2018, I was given the opportunity to speak in front of a large crowd in Robinsons Butuan. It was for the launching of #SoMe4AYRH: A Social Media Supplementation, a program that was organized by JHPIEGO AND USAID, in partnership with the Agusan del Norte division of the Department of Health, the Department of Education, the Commission of Population, and the Agusan del Norte Provincial Hospital.

Teenage Pregnancy in the Philippines

Meet May.She first got pregnant at 13 and now has three kids.Watch the video and know her story.#YOLO #teenpregnancy

Posted by YOLO on Wednesday, 27 June 2018

 

What is #SoMe4AYRH?

#SoMe4AYRH is a part a project that aims awareness about reproductive health to the younger generation by the use of social media, particularly Facebook. JHPIEGO and USAID partners with the local government units and agencies to localize the concerns and information shared on their social media channels.

The Philippines has a huge population of social media users, so this was a great move. For someone who relies a lot on social media for work, I acknowledge the power it holds, especially on our youth. Social media isn’t just a place to share memes and opinions, but a platform for spreading information that could save countless lives.

Social media gives you the means to reach out to more people than you normally can in person. It can remove the divide between generations, social statuses, and physical locations. You are able to connect better with them by interacting and sending your message more clearly through content like this:

Teenage Pregnancy in the Philippines

Meet May.She first got pregnant at 13 and now has three kids.Watch the video and know her story.#YOLO #teenpregnancy

Posted by YOLO on Wednesday, 27 June 2018

You can see some examples of what they’re doing in these following pages:

Fb.com/caraga.doh.gov.ph
Fb.com/yolo.depedadn
Fb.com/agacaysaadnph
Fb.com/caraga.popcom

When used responsibly, social media has the power to change nations for the better.

But What Makes This So Important?

Teen Pregnancy

It’s important because teenage pregnancy is a prevalent issue in the Philippines, but one that many don’t like to discuss because of the taboo surrounding it. Even so, we still need to talk about it right now before it gets any worse.

The Philippines has a worrying number of teenage pregnancies, with an estimated 500 girls becoming mothers each day. Did you know that the three regions with the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the Philippines are all located in Mindanao? Here they are:

1. Region XI (Davao Region) – 17.9%
2. Region X (Northern Mindanao) – 14.7%
3. Region XII (Soccsksargen) – 14.5%

Photo credit: Mindanews.com

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, around 1 out of 10 women from ages 15-19 are already mothers.

These are not statistics to be proud of. We should be alarmed.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

According to the health ministry and the United Nations, the Philippines has registered the fastest-growing HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Asia-Pacific in the past six years with a 140-percent increase in the number of new infections.

One of the biggest factors that has led to problems among the youth is the lack of education and the spread of misinformation on sex and reproductive health. This is made worse by the stigma regarding the use of contraceptives due to the dominant religious beliefs in the nation, namely the notion that we should “be fruitful and multiply”.

The Role Social Media Can Play in Youth Reproductive Health

As of 2017, 3 Mindanao regions have highest teenage pregnancies in the country.1. Davao Region – 233 women2. Soccsksargen – 198 women3. Northern Mindano – 181 womenAs of 2017 as well, 629 were diagnosed with HIV in the Philippines. More than 80 percent or 513 of those diagnosed with the virus belong to the 15 to 34 age group.It's time to take action and educate our youth regarding sexual health. The problem is, our teens may not be willing to discuss their issues with their parents, or may not have direct access to doctors and experts. They are either ashamed to ask, or avoiding the stigma that comes from their questions. So, they turn to social media.Social media is a platform that's directly accessible to most teens. #SoMe4ayrh is a campaign by Jhpiego and USAID Philippines that allow teens to have access to pages that will educate them and engage with them regarding their questions and issues about sex. It creates a partnershp between Local Government Units and health experts who can give information and facts about reproductive health as well as refer them to adolescent clinics ready to cater to their needs.Let's support efforts that aim to use social media as a platform to spread the right information about reproductive health. Let's use social media positively. “We must acknowledge the fact that teen-age pregnancy comes with high risks both for the mother and the baby. To add, early sexual debut exposes our adolescents to the risks of contracting STIs, we need to foster an environment where our adolescents are well empowered with knowledge; an environment where stigma is overpowered by information. We need to embrace change, as openly as we embrace our children. We envision a community where adolescents are equipped with the necessary skills and information for them to truly realize their true potentials” – DOH Carraga Regional Director Jose R. Llacuna, JrShare this video and help spread this campaign.

Posted by Digital Davaoeña on Tuesday, 17 July 2018

 

Why Not Multiply Responsibly Then?

Another problem is the legal age of sexual consent, which is 12. Twelve years old. Should we regularly expect someone of this age to have the maturity to choose wisely between having and not having sexual intercourse?

Yet one more dilemma is that although the age of consent is 12, you still need parental permission to get contraceptives and HIV tests if you’re not yet 18 years old. But rarely will there be a teenager who is brave enough to approach their parents for permission on these matters.

And because of all these, many young people today are afraid of sharing their problems and seeking out help.

This has many consequences, not just for the health of younger Filipinos, but our nation as a whole. Many teenagers don’t get to finish their schooling because they are too busy raising their children. And because they cannot complete their education, they have a harder time building careers and improving their financial stability. Mind you, this isn’t happening on a small scale. It’s everywhere. And this will go on and on unless we do something aside from preaching that “premarital sex is bad” and “all life is precious”.

It makes me wonder if we, the older generation, are to blame for this. But now is not the time to point fingers. We should address the situation before it gets worse.

And to do that, we must better educate the youth of today, and remove the stigma that surrounds sex in our country. That’s where #SoMe4AYRH—where social media—comes in, because that’s the best place to reach the younger generation. We have to adapt to today’s technologies.

Like the regional health chief of DOH Agusan del Norte, Jose R. Llacuna, Jr., said,

“We need to embrace change, as openly as we embrace our children. We envision a community where adolescents are equipped with the necessary skills and information for them to truly realize their true potentials.”

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