Health authorities in Colombia’s third largest city are welcoming figures that show a marked drop in the rate of teen pregnancy in the last eight years.
Cali‘s teen pregnancy rate is now 14%, below the national average of 19%, reported Cali’s El Pais newspaper on Monday morning.
Records from the Cali Secretariat of Health show that in 2005, a total of 7,411 women in the city gave birth before the age of 20. In 2013, the figure had been reduced to 5,137, a 31% drop.
Local strategy apparently working
Elizabeth Benavidez, Sexual and Reproductive Health Secretariat representative, said the drop is partially a result of the strategy adopted starting in 2007 called “Friendly Services,” which provides free sexual education and counseling to Cali’s young people.
“The idea is to have spaces where young people can share their life experiences and stories, get information about sexually transmitted diseases and help plan out their lives,” she told El Pais.
There are currently 24 centers providing such services throughout the city, with two more scheduled to be built in the coming year, according to Benavidez. The program is run through collaboration between an interdisciplinary group of doctors, nurses and psychologists, as well as a panel of 40 young people.
|“The idea is to have spaces where young people can share their life experiences and stories, get information about sexually transmitted diseases and help plan out their lives.”|
Highest in Latin America
In March last year, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said that the rate of teen pregnancy in Colombia was the highest in Latin America and that teen pregnancy is robbing girls of employment and education opportunities.
According to 2009 UN statistics, 160,978, or 23.46%, of the 686,045 infants in Colombia were born to mothers under the age of 20. Some 6,706 of teen mothers gave birth before reaching the age of 15.
In the last five years, the Colombian average has dropped to 19%, still among the highest in the region.
By comparison, Argentina had a teen pregnancy rate of 15.2% in 2009, according to the UN, while in Brazil, 18.1% of live births were delivered by women under the age of 20. In the more immediate Andes region, both Venezuela and Ecuador presented with teen pregnancy close to 20%.
Internationally, teen pregnancy has been strongly linked to poverty, among other things.
- Número de embarazos adolescentes en Cali disminuyó en los últimos 8 años (El Pais)
- Live births by country (United Nations)