EUROPE/ITALY - Teenage pregnancy and its consequences on the lives of young women in Africa

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Posted on: 04/27/16
Padova - For the first time ever, Italy celebrated “Women’s Health Day” this year in order to focus the nation’s attention on the issue of women’s health care and prevention and to underscore the fundamental role that women play both in their own families and the broader community, not only in Italy but worldwide. Doctors with Africa Cuamm have been supporting very young women every day – those who become pregnant and have children before the age of 18 – and helping them to cope with the difficult physical, social and psychological consequences of their situation. According to the data, the statement sent to Fides by Cuamm reports that pregnancies, in fact, are on the rise: more than 16 million young women aged 15 to 19 give birth every year, and another 16 million get pregnant for the first time under the age of 15. In Sub-Saharan African countries early pregnancy is frequently the consequence of forced and early marriages by very young girls; indeed, almost 120 million African girls are coerced into marrying before they reach 18. In addition, emergency and crisis situations, such as that which occurred during the recent Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leon, can also impact girls very negatively. A study recently carried out in Sierra Leone by a Doctors with Africa CUAMM team made an important finding: 31% of obstetric complications recorded in Pujehun District, where the organization has been working since 2012 were found in teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19. The situation in Mozambique is especially bad, with some 48.2% marriages involving girls under the age of 18. In Mozambique, alongside its general health care work Doctors with Africa CUAMM is partnering with local and national authorities to support six clinics specifically for teenagers. Called Servicios Amigos dos Adolescentes , the aim of this network is to help young people between the ages of 10 and 14 to learn more about their own health, providing advice on teen reproductive and sexual health, pre- and post-natal pregnancy visits, and information on HIV treatment and birth control.


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