The India-UN Development Partnership is funding a project to reduce high levels of adolescent pregnancy in Guyana.
It has been found that Guyana has the highest rate of adolescent pregnancy in the English-speaking Caribbean.
The problem is more acute in hinterland regions, with 74 of every 1, 000 indigenous girl becoming pregnant between the ages of 15 and 19.
At the Sophia Exhibition Centre on Friday, the agreement was signed for the start of the project. The hope is to reduce the above-average rate of adolescent pregnancy in Regions One and Nine.
Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence said the Government is aware of high levels of adolescent pregnancy plaguing the country and has prioritised the issue on the health agenda.
“Our situation, you would agree with me, is critical,” she said.
She said compared to other ethnic groups, Amerindians record the highest rates of teenage pregnancies.
She said some of the contributory factors include risky sexual behaviours, early sex and lack of access to contraceptives and comprehensive sexual education.
According to Lawrence, the Ministry recognised the enormous challenges and sought the support of local and international partners.
She noted that the project will establish adolescent-friendly health facilities, pregnancy support groups, and community parenting groups.
The project will be implemented over the next three years by the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA.
A representative of the UNFPA Alison Drayton said that the hinterland regions record the lowest use of contraceptives.
She said there are than 165 million teen pregnancies in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator Mikiko Tanaka highlighted the importance of the project.
“With one in five adolescent girls becoming pregnant each year in Guyana, an investment such as this is much needed,” she stated.
The Ministry of Health and the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association are the implementing partners of the project.
The Indian High Commissioner to Guyana MR Venkatachalam Mahalingham pointed to the overall goal of the project, which is to contribute to a 10% annual reduction in pregnancy rates among adolescents aged 10-19 years in the two regions by March of 2022.