TEENAGE PREGNANCY KILLS ONE GIRL EVERY 20 MINUTES, NEW ANALYSIS SHOWS
UK aid key to preventing more deaths, Save the Children says
Nearly 30,000 teenage girls – the equivalent of one every twenty minutes – die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth every year, making it one of the biggest killers of adolescent girls worldwide, new analysis by Save the Children shows today.
Nearly 95% of those deaths occur in the world’s poorest countries and girls from poorer families and rural areas are most likely to be affected.
Babies born to teenage mothers are also at higher risk; the mortality rate for those born to mothers under 20 is 30% higher than for those born to mothers between 20 and 29.
Save the Children is warning that unless young girls – particularly those in the poorest countries – are given greater access to contraceptives and family planning methods, the situation could worsen.
In many countries, young girls become pregnant before their bodies are ready, and many are put-off or prevented from using family planning methods because of social or cultural barriers.
The figures are alarming: 214 million women around the world who don’t want to get pregnant have no access to modern contraceptives, meaning many of them will have unintended or mistimed pregnancies.
Girls from poorer backgrounds and rural areas are the worst affected. For example:
• Girls in rural areas of Nigeria are almost four times as likely to become pregnant as those living in urban areas and girls from the poorest families are almost 8 times as likely to give birth before their 20th birthday as those from the richest communities
• In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi and Tanzania, teenage girls from the poorest households are almost three times more likely to become pregnant as those in the richest
“It’s unacceptable that so many young girls are dying simply because they don’t have access to contraceptives like condoms or the pill, or because of myths and cultural barriers,” said Kirsty McNeill, Executive Director of Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns of Save the Children UK.
“The UK has led the way in breaking down these dangerous barriers so that women and girls around the world have the right to decide if and when they get pregnant – a decision that could save their lives.
“But it’s clear more needs to be done. Girls need to be given greater access to contraceptives, and contraceptives should be made free. We also need to ensure that myths about family planning are dispelled so that every girl feels empowered to decide what happens to her own body.”
The UK has been a global leader in family planning for the last several decades. Since 2012 alone, UK aid has helped 8.5 million girls and women to gain access to contraception. This has helped avert 2.6m additional unintended pregnancies, saved the lives of 3,000 women, and has helped prevent over 30,000 still births and 19,000 new born deaths, according to the Department for International Development.
Today world leaders are coming together in London to discuss what more must be done at the family planning summit hosted by the Department for International Development, United Nations Population Fund, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Save the Children is calling on the UK government to continue increasing the availability and accessibility of family planning services, and to ensure that health services are free, particularly in the poorest countries where barriers to contraceptives can be the greatest. Family planning should be provided as part of the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health services, rooted in respect for women's and girl’s rights