Programme to reduce repeat of pregnancies among adolescents launched
The Ministry of Public Health’s Adolescent Health Department in partnership with the Ministry of Education today launched its Adolescent Antenatal Support group at the Herstelling Health Centre on the East Bank of Demerara.
The programme focuses on reducing repeat pregnancies among adolescents along with preparing the already pregnant parents for safe delivery and caring for the new born.
First launched in 2015 in seven health centres in Region 4 as a pilot, the aim is to now have the programme launched in at least two health centres in each region by the end of 2016.
Adolescent Antenatal Support group meetings will be held bi-monthly, on days chosen by the doctors in charge of the individual health centres. They will be held at the Herstelling Health Centre on the first Friday of the month at 8am and the fourth Tuesday at 11:00hrs.
Sexual and Reproductive Health Co-ordinator of the Ministry of Public Health, Ms. Cilandell Glen, explained that during the meetings, the adolescent mothers are provided with psycho-social support.
They are linked to a family clinic where they are placed on a contraceptive method of their choice.
The Ministry of Education’s School Health, Nutrition and HIV/AIDS department and the School’s welfare department also works along with the Ministry of Public Health on the school re-integration programme, since most of the girls are currently out of school as a result of their pregnancy.
Those who have delivered their babies are placed back into school, and those who cannot be re-integrated are placed into skills training programmes.
According to HIV Co-ordinator at the Ministry of Education, Ms. Janelle Sweatnam, they also provide care packages to the expectant mothers, which contain basic supplies for the baby.
She explained that this is done since they recognise that teenage mothers are more susceptible of putting themselves at risk of contracting HIV and other STI’s because of their economic situations.
They have so far delivered 100 care packages thus far for 2016 and 100 more are to be distributed. Corporate Guyana, she said, has also been providing much support.
Meanwhile, Doctor in charge of the Herstelling Health Centre, Dr. Omwattie Seepersaud, said that the catchment area for the health Centre is Providence to Prospect and they currently have 13 adolescent mothers. Adolescents are seen as those between the ages of 10-19.
She pointed out that pregnancy is the second leading cause of death of adolescents, after motor vehicle accidents.
Dr. Seepersaud explained that adolescent pregnancies can cause health effects both to the mother and the baby, and there are also economic and social effects.
She lauded the initiative which will allow them to lend support to the mothers and encourage them to delay pregnancy to a later period.
Nineteen-year-old Shemessa Wiltshire of Herstelling, who is six months pregnant, said that it is a good opportunity for her to interact with other teenage mothers.
She said she enjoys sharing her experiences with teenagers in similar situations, and she is grateful for the support she is receiving at the health centre.
The Adolescent Antenatal Support group will soon be introduced at health centres such as those in Mocha Arcadia, Bartica, and Moruca, as well as the Mabaruma District hospital.
In January of next year, the programme will be further expanded to target other health centres, until all of the health centres in Guyana are included.