Mongar records highest teenage pregnancies in last three years

Teenage pregnancies under 18 years of age for the last three years

Lhakpa Tshering

Of the 473 teenage pregnancy cases below 18 years of age recorded by health officials in the last years from 2018-2020, Mongar Dzongkhag recorded the highest with 77 cases.

However, the cases had declined from 31 in 2018 to 25 in 2019 while 2020 saw only 21 cases. These figures are excluding teenage pregnancies above 18 years that recorded 624 cases in the last three years across the country.

Senior Dzongkhag Health Officer of Mongar, Deki Phuntsho said that the reason could be because of the large population size in the dzongkhag.

But he also thinks that attitudes towards sex and intimate relationships in general could be another reason leading to teenage pregnancy in the rural areas unlike in the western region.

To reduce teenage pregnancies, he said, advocacy and awareness on the prevention of teenage pregnancy have been carried out in collaboration with the relevant stakeholders through a multi-sectoral task force.

He added special attention will be given to the prevention of teenage pregnancy. “In the past, we focus mostly on prevention of suicide cases and domestic violence,” he said. “Now more budgets have been allocated to programs related to teenage pregnancies.”

Meanwhile, Trashigang Dzongkhag comes in second highest with 55 cases followed by Sarpang with 45 cases and Wanddue Phodrang with 44 cases. Trashigang is also seeing a decline of such cases from 21 cases in 2018 to 12 cases in 2020.

Bumthang, Dagana, Haa, Trongsa, and Zhemgang saw a single-digit case with the lowest recorded in Bumthang with only three cases in three years.

Of 1097 teenage pregnancies in the last three years, 2018 alone saw 453 teenage pregnancy cases including 176 below 18-years of age cases, while it had recorded 314 cases (143 below 18 years of age) in 2019 and 330 cases (154 below 18 years of age) in 2020.

Recognizing the physiological, social, and economic consequences of teenage pregnancies, the Ministry of Health (MoH) focuses on the prevention of teenage pregnancies through a multi-stakeholder and community support approach.

Several programs have been in place to address the health and wellbeing of women, adolescents, and children including the Reproductive Maternal and Newborn Health (RMNH) Program, Adolescent Health Program, and Comprehensive School Health Program.

These programs are expected to address issues such as providing timely antenatal care, care in childbirth, and postnatal care for safe motherhood besides family planning services and tools to prevent unwanted pregnancies.