Amid the observance of the World Population Day today, July 11, Senator Win Gatchalian is urging the government to ensure the sustained drop of teenage pregnancies in the country.
According to the 2022 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), 5.4% or 5,531 of women aged 15 to 19 in the country have been pregnant. In 2017, the PSA found that teenage pregnancy in the same age group was at 8.6%. The agency also noted that for 2022, the decreasing trend in teenage pregnancy was recorded among 15 regions. Increases in teenage pregnancies were recorded, however, in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Western Visayas.
The PSA also noted that the percentage of teenage pregnancy decreases as educational attainment increases. Among those who completed grade levels 7 to 10, 5.3% got pregnant, 4.8% got pregnant among those who completed grade levels 11 to 12, and 1.9% for those who attained college level.
For Gatchalian, keeping girls in school remains an important strategy in curbing teenage pregnancies. He also cited the role of ensuring the effectiveness of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) being taught under Department of Education (DepEd) schools.
“Mahalaga ang papel ng mga paaralan upang maturuan ang mga batang kababaihan laban sa mga panganib ng maagang pagbubuntis. Kailangang tiyakin nating may akma at wastong edukasyon ang mga batang kababaihan upang mapangalagaan nila ang kanilang kalusugan at magandang kinabukasan,” said Gatchalian, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.
Last year, Gatchalian filed Proposed Senate Resolution No. 13 which seeks a Senate inquiry on adolescent pregnancies and the rising number of human immunodeficiency virus infections in the country. The proposed inquiry also seeks to review the DepEd’s existing CSE policy to assess the comprehensiveness of its scope and the effectiveness of its implementation.
Gatchalian also pressed the need to address the persistently high numbers of teenage pregnancies among very young adolescents or those aged 10 to 14. Citing data from the PSA, the Commission on Population and Development flagged that more than 2,000 girls aged 10 to 14 were pregnant in 2022. The population body further flagged that some pregnancies among minors aged 10 to 14 were with men aged 21 and up.
For Gatchalian, this entails an aggressive implementation of Republic Act No.11648, a law that he co-authored, which increased the age of sexual consent from 12 to 16.