Adolescents lack knowledge on sexual reproductive health---Nogouchi study

A STUDY conducted by the Nogouchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) has indicated majority of Ghanaian adolescents have no knowledge of sexual and reproductive health issues.

The research also established that adolescent pregnancy was prevalent in Accra, especially in Ashiedu-Kete, La and Okai Koi Sub-metros with some 15 per cent of adolescents likely to be pregnant or become mothers before age 19.

A Senior Research Fellow of the NMIMR, Dr Collins S. Ahorlu, however assured that a number of the adolescents, who got pregnant, showed resilience and returned to school while others who could not return to school found solace in apprenticeship.

 Dr Ahorlu stated this when he gave excerpts of the research at the launch of ‘Youth for Youth,’ Magazine, which is dedicated to addressing sexual and reproductive health among adolescents in Ghana.

The study of teenage girls to early pregnancy and reproductive health in Ghana and Tanzania under the Research Project 7 (RP-7) was started in 2009 and is being conducted in Ghana and Tanzania and expected to end in 2013.

The project is looking into the resilience of teenage girls to early pregnancy and reproductive health in Ghana and Tanzania.

Dr Ahorlu stated that unlike their Ghanaian counterparts, results of the study indicated that 70 per cent of the adolescents in Tanzania were highly informed about sexual and reproductive health issues.

He stated that the high awareness among the Tanzanian adolescent was because the country had adolescent-targeted programmes that met the needs of the adolescents who played active roles in such programmes.

He said causes of adolescent pregnancy identified by the research included breakdown of family, poverty and pressure from parents, adding that “Some parents even put pressure on their children to have boyfriends so they could bring money home.”

The 16-page magazine is expected to move beyond the pilot stage and become a nationwide tool for improving adolescent and reproductive health realities in Ghana.

The maiden edition captured topics including ‘Sex education as a subject in high schools’, ‘ABC of preventing vaginal infections,’ ‘How can I say no to premarital sex’ and ‘Reproductive system and growth in humans.’

All articles and photographs in the magazines were contributed by students of the Labone Senior High School and the Holy Trinity Senior High School with the support of the Ghana Institute of Journalism and the Ghana Health Service.

Dr Ahorlu called for sustained sexual and reproductive health education for young people which would adequately address their needs.

“If society comes to this point, then you will realise that adolescents suffer a great deal with limited economic opportunities, especially those who get pregnant.”

Experts say apart from curiosity and the lack of sex education, which leads some teenagers into adolescent pregnancy, most become victims through no fault of theirs. As part of the teenage development stage, many teenagers become curious about the rapid changes in their body, and the strange passion of emotional feelings and attraction for the opposite sex.

But the inadequate sexual and reproductive health education in Ghana means a lot of teenagers, especially girls, are not adequately informed about reproductive issues.

With ill information at the heart of their predicament, many teenagers fall prey to pregnancy and become a burden on their families and society.    
Reports about teenage pregnancy in Ghana become frequent during the sitting of the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE).

In 2010, in the Shama District of the Western Region, it was reported that there was mass failures of children in the area in the BECE, and that about 572 teenage pregnancies were recorded in the district.

To stem the trend of reported BECE candidates being pregnant, the Lower Manya Krobo District Assembly (LMKD) of Odumase in the Eastern Region in 2010  was reported to have issued a directive that all female students who were preparing to write the BECE would undergo pregnancy tests before they were allowed to write the exams.

The reason was to control teenage pregnancy, which was high in the area where in 2009 alone, over 33 female students failed to write the BECE as a result of pregnancy.

Available statistics suggest that 8 out of 15 girls are aware of birth control, however only one or two of them use it.

While no safety precautions are taken in almost all cases; the availability of condoms and anti-pregnancy pills are either scarce or too costly for a teenager to afford.

In some cases, the pregnant girls receive help from the family of the father, however, in many instances, this is discontinued soon after the baby is born.

Experts say approximately 40 per cent of teenage pregnancies result in an unsafe abortion, in turn leading to medical complications and in some cases fatalities.


  1. Excellent article very informative.


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