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Gatchalian urges LGUs to address spike in teenage pregnancy due to lockdown

By Hannah Torregoza

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday urged local government units (LGUs) to formulate strategies to counter the spike in teenage pregnancies due to the enforced lockdowns to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, said LGUs should ramp up their efforts to raise awareness on teenage pregnancy through public health and population management programs.

The senator emphasized that getting pregnant at a young age would force teenage girls out of school and deprive them of opportunities to make a decent livelihood.

“Ngayon natin dapat mas patatagin ang mga programa laban sa maagang pagbubuntis upang hindi mapagkaitan ang ating mga kabataan ng magandang kinabukasan, (Now is the time for us to strengthen our programs to stop early pregnancy in order not to deprive our youth of a better future),” Gatchalian said.

The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) had earlier projected a spike in unplanned pregnancies among adolescents in the country due to the enforced lockdowns caused by the global pandemic.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), among the factors of teenage pregnancy include lack of access to school, information, and sexual and reproductive health care.

Gatchalian warned that the spike in teenage pregnancies could result in population surge, citing similar trends in the country and other nations whenever emergencies and natural calamities occur.

The lawmaker recalled that in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda, results of a study done by the Department of Science and Technology-National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NRCP) showed that 23.5 percent of teenage girls in Eastern Visayas got pregnant, while 14.8 percent got pregnant and had another child the following year.

He also noted that during the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, adolescent pregnancy cases in the West African country increased by up to 65 percent in the affected communities.

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, experts have already considered teenage pregnancy in the Philippines a “national emergency.” The number of births from the 15-19 age group declined from 182,906 in 2017, to 181,717 in 2018, while the number of births in the 10-14 age group notably increased.

Between 2011 and 2018, live births in this age group rose from 1,381 to 2,250, which is equivalent to 63 percent.

“Matagal nang hamon sa atin ang pigilan ang pagdami ng kaso ng maagang pagbubuntis ngunit dahil sa COVID-19, nanganganib na mas dumami pa ang mga kabataang kababaihan na maging batang ina at huminto sa pag-aaral, (The rise in early teenage pregnancy cases has long been a great challenge to us, but because of COVID-19, more young females are in danger of becoming teenage mothers and eventually stop studying),” the senator said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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