The Philippines has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates throughout Southeast Asia, says a new study.
The United Nations Population Fund said that the ‘only’ Asia-Pacific country which has a sharp rise in teenage pregnancy over the last two decades is the Philippines.
Those rising pregnancy rates may slow the country’s growth expectations with newly-elected President Rodrigo Duterte.
Should the pattern continue, the country will have more younger dependents that are unwilling to work, and a much older society dependent on youths to carry them through their senior years.
In the study, girls aged 15 to 19 make up 10 per cent of the population in the Philippines today. Sadly, one out of every ten have already given birth to a child in those same age brackets.
Authorities say the fertility rate in the country is 57 births for every 1,000 girls – this rate is based on a study performed in 2013.
Contraception to reduce teenage pregnancy
The study also shows that the Philippines need to fully implement a reproductive health law, as well as invest in quality education and other health services for younger children, including teenage girls.
That recommendation also comes on the heels for the country to produce meaningful jobs, not just for working class people, but also for young up-and-coming mothers, families and those looking to enter the first real stages of responsibility.
The Philippines has minimum daily pay amounts posted throughout the country – sorry to say those posting are often ignored – in Davao City the minimum is 318 pesos, but in Chinatown and many other poor districts the pay can start at 150 to 200 pesos per day.
The study on teenage pregnancy emphasized the urgency for teenage girls to complete at least a high school education before entering into bearing a child.
UNFPA representative said that “due to the slow reduction in the fertility rate, the country may not be able to benefit fully from the demographic dividend.” In short, the optimal balance between young, old and middle class would be severely unbalanced, creating an economic disaster.
Since the 1960s fertility rates have dropped
In 2013, a prior study showed that the fertility rate in the Philippines was three births per woman – those numbers are much better than those from the 1960’s when Filipina women had an average of seven children.
Today, the poorest communities in the Philippines still hold the average fertility rate at 5.2 births per woman. For some those numbers show the strong-hold of the Catholic Church and the grip it has on the country.
President Rodrigo Duterte has signaled his plan to fully implement the reproductive health law that will guarantee universal access to contraception, sex education, and maternal care.
Education is also on Duterte’s venue, but many question the reality of K-12, and other plans that sorely miss the spot when coming to first world education.