Ogun State government yesterday decried the increasing rate of teenage pregnancy among school girls following the shutdown of schools as a result of the outbreak of coronavirus.
The state’s Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tomi Coker, who disclosed this while speaking with journalists in Abeokuta, the state capital, urged parents to encourage their children to visit the teenage units of primary health centres in the state for counselling and advice from health professionals.
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Coker, who also expressed concern about the increasing rate of rape and other gender-based violence during the school closure, urged parents to introduce family planning to their teenagers who are already sexually active.
She said that although introducing family planning to teenagers may be a difficult task because of religious and cultural inclinations, family planning is not only safe but also the best solution to unwanted pregnancy, abortion and maternal mortality.
She said: “It is absolutely good to introduce family planning to our teenagers and teenage mothers who are already sexually active.
“I would like to encourage both the young, even the women of marriageable age, married women and religious leaders that family planning is safe. It is good for us, it actually positions us in a better socio-economic cadre worldwide and we need to embrace it to reduce the maternal mortality in our society and give our children the best opportunity in life.”
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Besides, the commissioner, who insisted that parents must also introduce sex education to their children to prevent unwanted pregnancy, reduce maternal mortality and sexually transmitted diseases, said;
“I have been very worried about the COVID-19 period because young individuals are out of school, they are not engaged positively, so they may end up turning to sex as recreation and that might lead to teenage pregnancies and loss of school years and life opportunities and even the risk of ending up dying from septic abortions.
She, therefore, urged parents to engage their children, especially teenagers, in productive activities during this period of school closure to prevent them from turning to sex as recreation and to also build their self-esteem.
“Sex education is very important, it build their (teenagers) self-esteem and it makes them speak up when they need to speak up and then they don’t end up being victims of gender violence which is what I have also seen during this COVID-19 period,” she further said.