…stats not even “scratching the surface” – GRPA
By Desilon Daniels
“We need to learn how to do things better; we need to open those spaces where youths are comfortable to speak on issues.” – Patricia Sheerattan-Bisnauth, Director of the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA)
The issue of teenage pregnancy in Guyana continues to be a relevant one, especially in light of new statistics which show that more than 650 babies were born to teenage mothers in Georgetown alone for the year so far.
The information was shared by the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) which recently released statistics on the number of babies delivered within the hospital from January to July month end.
According to the hospital, 3,125 babies were delivered within the institution during the first 7 months of 2015; 50 of the delivered babies were stillborn.
However, the most alarming figure was that of babies born to teenage mothers; the hospital’s data showed that out of the total deliveries 657 babies were born to teenagers. These young mothers ranged in age from under 14 to 19.
These figures indicate that of the total number of babies born at the Georgetown Hospital, approximately 21 percent were to teens.
The past four months accounted for more than half of these deliveries. Previous information from the GPHC indicated that 326 babies were born to teenagers from January 1 to March 31, 2015. From April 1 to July 31 there were 331 babies born to teen moms.
The hospital did not indicate how many, if any, of the babies delivered to teenagers were stillborn.
Meanwhile, this year’s statistics thus far indicate that while there was an increase from last year for the first quarter, there was a decrease within the last four months compared to the same period last year.
During the first quarter of 2014, there were 282 babies born to teenage mothers as compared to this year’s 326. Additionally, from April 1 to July 31, 2014, there were 391 babies delivered to teen mothers as compared to 331 this year.
Overall, there was a minor decline from last year in the number of babies born to teenage mothers. At the end of July 2014, there were 673 babies compared to this year’s 657.
These figures do not take into account babies born to teen mothers in other hospitals, particularly those in hinterland communities where teenage pregnancy is prevalent.
NOT EVEN SCRATCHING THE SURFACE
“What we are seeing are the realities of our country,” Patricia Sheerattan-Bisnauth, Executive Director of the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA) said. “But what we’re seeing is not even scratching the surface of what our young women and young men are going through each day.”
In a 2014 report, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) noted that Guyana has a high incidence of teenage pregnancy and yesterday the GRPA head stressed that this information is being reflected every day in Guyana.
She further said that teenage pregnancy in Guyana stems from multiple issues including family breakdown and sexual violence. She emphasised that the nation was facing a “huge problem” that could only worsen if proper strategies and programmes are not developed to tackle the issue.
According to Sheerattan-Bisnauth, the GRPA is working along closely with the Ministry of Education, and is pushing for the introduction of sex education into the school system. She stressed that this programme must be age-appropriate with youth-friendly spaces to facilitate open conversation. She also said that peer education was an important factor going forward. These peer educators must be linked with organisations to carry out roles alongside counsellors. She stressed that counsellors in schools are not proficient enough to deal with the realities because they are trained in workshops rather than in the “real world” where the real issues occur.
She also stressed the importance of incorporating edutainment into the process and shared that GRPA is working on providing community theatres.
“We need to learn how to do things better; we need to open those spaces where youths are comfortable to speak on issues,” she emphasised.
The GRPA always has its door open to the public, particularly youths in Guyana. The organisation offers clinic services and not only provides tests and examinations free of cost, but also counselling services.
Sheerattan-Bisnauth encouraged youths to take up the services available to them and to educate them to avoid becoming a part of the growing statistics.
DECLINE IN BIRTHS
Meanwhile, the GPHC’s information shows that there was an overall decline in births for the year thus far when compared to 2014.
From January 1 to July 31, 2014 the hospital said it delivered 3,207 babies. Out of this total, 56 babies were stillborn. This year for the same period, the hospital delivered 3,125 babies, 50 of which were stillbirths.
Additionally, over 50 percent of the hospital’s successfully delivered babies were born within the last four months; in the first three months of 2015, the hospital recorded 1,467 births, approximately 48 percent. The last four months recorded 1,608 babies, approximately 53 percent of the hospital’s successful deliveries.
In terms of stillbirths, 25 were delivered from January to March while the other 25 were delivered between April and July.
Meanwhile, “deliveries in January 2015 surpassed the other months with a total of 565 babies being delivered, while the same period last year April had the highest amount of deliveries with a total of 501 babies being born at the hospital,” the hospital said.
Additionally, 2,373 patients were admitted to the GPHC maternity ward in the first quarter while 2,719 were admitted within the last four months, taking the total up to 5,092 admitted patients from January to July month-end.
The GPHC delivers about 60 percent of the nation’s babies.
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