EXECUTIVE Director of the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF) Dr Zoe Simpson says evidence from the centre’s recruitment activities has shown a decline in pregnancy among teenagers.
“We have not done the empirical research; however, by virtue of the fact that we recruit on the ground at the health centres and hospitals, we are not interfacing with as many (pregnant teens) as we were five years ago. So just anecdotally, it really seems that the numbers are trending down,” she said.
She said the last research on teen pregnancy in Jamaica was done in 2008.
Dr Simpson was speaking with
JIS News after a tour of the WCJF’s Kingston campus by wife of the prime minister, Juliet Holness.
The centre assists adolescent girls, 17 years and younger, who become pregnant while in school, to complete their secondary education.
Dr Simpson explained that recruitment is carried out at health centres and hospitals, where the young women receive antenatal and postnatal care and deliver their babies.
She said that the programme has been quite successful in its mandate to assist teen mothers to pursue their goals by offering academic instruction, individual and group counselling sessions, and childcare services.
She added that a key part of the programme of intervention is contraceptive counselling in order to delay second pregnancies.
The executive director noted that 52 per cent of teens who do not receive intervention and counselling, or complete their secondary education, have second pregnancies.
“The second pregnancy rate has remained below two per cent among the girls who access this programme of intervention,” she said.
The WCJF, she said, is an important support system for teen mothers and has encouraged more of them to access the intervention.
To date, more than 45,000 teen mothers have been assisted through the programme, with graduates pursuing higher education or being gainfully employed.
“I want to commend us as a country because it really does seem that our efforts are bearing fruit. We’re not comfortable because the numbers are still very high and we have a lot of work to do yet, but we look forward to the day when the numbers are really at the best,” she said.