Adolescent pregnancy

Photo: A young Sindhi woman and her child stand in front of her house in Thata District of Sind Province.

Complications during pregnancy and childbirth is the second leading cause of death for adolescent girls globally; 95 per cent of these deaths occur in low and middle income countries, like Pakistan.

Complications during pregnancy and childbirth is the second leading cause of death for adolescent girls globally; 95 per cent of these deaths occur in low and middle income countries, like Pakistan.

 

The adolescent fertility rate in Pakistan is one of the highest in the world with 44 of every 1,000 live births. Many of these pregnancies are due to a severe lack of accurate information and access to sexual and reproductive health services. Teenage pregnancy substantially impacts a girls’ education, health and future prospects, putting her at risk of poverty and exclusion.  

 

UNFPA works to address this by advocating for an increase in life skills-based education and youth-friendly health services. These interventions are critical to not only reducing adolescent and unintended pregnancy, but also unsafe abortions, obstetric fistulas and maternal mortality.

 

There is still a long road ahead in tackling unintended pregnancies across Pakistan. Accessing sexual and reproductive health services remains a major barrier for many adolescents and young people. Overall, contraceptive prevalence rates are extremely low, particularly among married adolescents aged 15-19 at just 10 per cent. According to PDHS, only 6.9 per cent of all married women report obtaining modern contraception and only 20 per cent discussed family planning with a field worker. This is even lower among adolescents due to the negative attitudes from health providers and lack of targeted, youth-friendly interventions.

 

Advocating for sexual and reproductive health rights

UNFPA advocates for the right to sexual and reproductive health information and services. This includes urging the Government of Pakistan to increase investments in girls’ health, education and economic opportunities. UNFPA helps Pakistan conform to international standards by enhancing procurement opportunities for reproductive health commodities, training health-care workers in youth-friendly health service delivery and providing sexual and reproductive health information to communities.

 

UNFPA’s service provision project for newlywed couples has played an important role in Pakistan by raising awareness about family planning and contraceptive use, while also addressing common myths and misconceptions found in many communities. The information and services offered to newlyweds are also provided to adolescents who receive family planning services by health-care workers trained in youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services. 190 health care providers from three project districts have trained and more than 5000 newly-wed received counseling in past years.