Over these past few years, Baird’s CMC associates have had the opportunity to work with a number of important projects that intersect with the critical issue of teen pregnancies, particularly in Africa. For instance, our work with a wonderful initiative called Mapping Pathways found us speaking with Dr. Melissa Wallace about the correlation between early sexual activity, teen pregnancy rates and increased HIV incidence in South Africa.
For the same project, we also spoke with Dr. Tim Farley about new research that shows the possibility that women using injectable hormonal contraceptives might double their chances of acquiring and transmitting HIV infection. Dr. Farley explained the complexity of this issue policy-wise when weighed against the huge benefits, particularly in the African region, of avoiding an unwanted pregnancy, not only for the morbidity issues but also for mortality reasons. Read his interview here.
Baird’s CMC co-founder Mark Chataway also recently worked on a project to help spread awareness amongst policymakers about new research on teen pregnancies in Africa conducted by a private, charitable foundation based in the US. You can read more about the project here.
The topic of teen pregnancy was also big news in London this summer when the British government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation held a summit on family planning (read the summary of commitments here). The aim is to provide 120 million of the world’s poorest women with access to contraception over the next eight years, at an estimated cost of almost £2.6bn.
We’ve compiled a few statistics to give you a snapshot on global teen pregnancy rates and their often tragic and far-reaching implications:
– Unintended pregnancy is the biggest killer of teenage girls in the developing world, with one million dying or suffering injury, infection or disease due to pregnancy or childbirth every year, according to research by Save the Children.
– Every year 358,000 women die due to pregnancy or childbirth – that comes to one woman every two minutes. Many of those women did not plan to be pregnant. Additionally, 47,000 women die every year because of unsafe abortions, according to Marie Stopes International.
– The UNFPA, in its report “No Woman Should Die Giving Life” sites that about 90 percent of abortion-related deaths and disabilities worldwide could be avoided if women who wished to had access to effective contraception.
– The same report states that the risk of a women dying as a result of pregnancy of childbirth during her lifetime is about 1 in 7 in Niger and about 1 in 48,000 in Ireland. In sub-Saharan Africa, where most maternal deaths occur, about 70 per cent have no contact with health personnel following childbirth.
– Young women aged 15 to 19 are twice as likely to die from complications in pregnancy as are women in their twenties. For mothers under 18, their babies’ chance of dying in the first year of life is 60 per cent greater than that of a baby born to someone aged 19 or older, according to a report by UNICEF.
– According to a report launched by Andrew Mitchell to the British Parliament, 60 to 80 per cent of women have access to contraception, in sub-Saharan Africa the figure is below 20 per cent.
– The Guttmacher Policy Review states that 215 million globally have no access to contraception; they account for 82% of the 75 million unintended pregnancies that occur globally each year. Access to family-planning services could reduce the number of maternal deaths by a third.