Jamaica to help African state deal with teenage pregnancy

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday June 26, 2013 – Jamaica says it will provide technical assistance to Burkina Faso in preventing adolescent pregnancies and supporting adolescent mothers.

Information Minister Sandrea Falconer made the disclosure following a study tour of the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation as part of the activities of the Working Mission from Burkina Faso, led by the First Lady of the West African country, Chantal Compaoré.

Falconer said the modalities of bi-lateral agreement are being worked out and that additional discussions will commence at a later date.

“What I have asked the team at Jamaica House to do, and they will be working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, is for us to arrange how we can offer technical support to the people of Burkina Faso, in ensuring that they are able to set up centres similar to our Women’s Centre,” she added.

She said that through the assistance offered at the centres, teenage mothers can be reintegrated into the formal education system.

“The girls can cut down on the number of pregnancies and they can find their meaningful place in society,” she said, adding that the government is committed to the continued education of teenage mothers.

The minister said that effective September this year, it will be mandatory for all school-aged mothers to be reintegrated into the formal school system.

“Before we had that policy entrenched, it was up to the discretion of the teachers and we felt that was not good enough and as a government, we are committed to see our girls, even if they become pregnant, have the opportunity to go back to school and make a meaningful contribution to society, and the only way they can do that is through education,” she said, adding that the Portia Simpson Miller government would continue to support centres across the island.

Mrs. Compaoré said she is impressed with the mechanisms that have been established to cater to, prevent, and support adolescent girls who may become pregnant.

The First Lady, who departs the island on Saturday, said it is the intention of her government to adopt and replicate some of the strategies observed in Jamaica.

“The whole problem of teenage pregnancy is extremely important and we hope that after we leave here, we will become leaders in West Africa in this particular subject and we will do everything possible to get the adolescent mothers into the programme,” she said.

In Burkina Faso, recent studies show that adolescent girls and young women are the first victims of unwanted pregnancies and illegal/unsafe abortions, along with all the risks and consequences they cause.

Acting Executive Director of the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation, Dr. Zoe Simpson, said that since its inception in 1978, the second pregnancy rate for adolescent girls has been below two per cent.

Early pregnancy in schools is a major concern for the persons in charge of the promotion and protection of young people and adolescent rights.

Jamaica is supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to protect and promote the rights of adolescents and young people towards responsible sexuality and access to high quality reproduction health services. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)