PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad -- Ambassador John Ashe, president of the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, and Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund will lead a high level delegation to Trinidad and Tobago for a regional consultation on adolescent pregnancy.
The purpose of the consultation is to explore the opportunities and challenges in addressing adolescent pregnancy which has been identified by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as a priority issue.
The consultation is being organized by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the UNFPA, United Nations Population Fund with support from the government of Trinidad and Tobago and will take place in Port of Spain on December 9, 2013. Participants will include government, civil society, the private sector, the United Nations System and other international development partners.
The consultation, which will involve various stakeholders and high level officials from the Caribbean who work in that field, will also seek to chart a course of action to educate, empower, support girls, and reduce the incidence of adolescent pregnancy. A strategic framework on adolescent pregnancy commissioned by CARICOM’s Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) in May 2013 will be presented and discussed.
According to the UNFPA State of World Population report 2013, motherhood in childhood is a huge global problem, especially in developing countries, where every year 7.3 million girls under the age of 18 give birth. In the Caribbean, despite the fall in total fertility rate, adolescent birth rates remain relatively high. Among girls aged 15 - 19 years old, the birth rate ranges from 26 to 97 per 1,000 adolescent girls. Guyana, Belize, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda and Suriname have the highest teen pregnancy rates in the Caribbean.
CARICOM assistant secretary-general, human and social development, Dr Douglas Slater, who will be attending the consultation, commented, "Adolescent pregnancy and births should not be seen merely as a reproductive health issue. There are substantial economic, social and human cost attached to them and tackling this issue should be a priority in every member state of the Community."
Within the context of efforts to develop a new sustainable development agenda post 2015, the consultations will be seeking to advance a new holistic approach to minimise the occurrence of adolescent pregnancy that draws on the experience and strengths of all stakeholders.