Publicationoofaannew study: "Realities of Teenage Pregnancy"....

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MRC (Medical Research Center), the Royal Tropical Institute of the Netherlands (KIT) and the University of Sierra Leone, partners of the National Strategy for the Reduction of Teenage Pregnancy released on the 27th of June 2013 a new research entitled “Realities of Teenage Pregnancy in Sierra Leone”.

This research was developed based on the findings of an earlier study on promising practices in maternal and neonatal health in Sierra Leone, and the development of a comprehensive package of interventions proposed by a working group consisting of experts from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) and representatives of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) working in the field of maternal and neonatal health (MNH) in Sierra Leone. The working group identified empowering community-based education to address traditional beliefs and practices as an important gap in the country’s efforts to achieving better health outcomes for women and newborns (Working group MNH package of interventions, 2011).

The severe consequences for young girls as the result of an increasing teenage pregnancy rate needs urgent attention

Teenage pregnancy and early marriage emerged as a focus for community education interventions to be piloted for a number of reasons. Firstly, empowering community education for the improvement of Maternal and Newborn Health (MNH) needs to address underlying gender and cultural norms and values as an important factor influencing MNH. These norms and values also influence early marriage and teenage pregnancy. Secondly the severe consequences for young girls as the result of an increasing teenage pregnancy rate was identified as needing urgent attention.

This report presents the findings of a qualitative study conducted in 4 districts investigating the reasons for and consequences of teenage pregnancies. The research formed the input for the development of a community education intervention in Bo district in the second half of 2012. The intervention will be described and evaluated separately and is not part of this report.

A study that contextualizes girls’ choices and experiences regarding life, sexuality and pregnancy

The aim of this formative research was to develop an insight in how decisions to have sex, get pregnant and marriage are reached and what the consequences are, with an intent to inform the interventions that would direct the participative community education component. Our data are complementary to other research initiatives looking at teenage pregnancies in Sierra Leone. The value added is the qualitative data obtained that contextualize girls’ choices and experiences regarding sexuality, life stories of teenage mothers, and circumstances and consequences for the teenage girl who becomes pregnant.