Teenage pregnancy is on the rise in Nimba County, with underage girls as young as 12-years old topping the list, county health officials have alarmed.
The alarm follows early reports of a rise in teenage pregnancy in the county sometime in July, while a recent report release by the Liberia Demographic Health Survey (LDHS) shows that 21 percent of women that are dying in pregnancy are between the ages of 15 and 19.
The Officer-In-Charge of the Toweh Town Community Clinic, in Nimba County, Mr. Martin Gweh says the increase in teenage pregnancy have affected the entire population with about 80 percent of girls of school going age being affected in Toweh Town. Toweh Town is the town of late President Moses Blah.
He said teenage girls between the ages of 12 to 16 years have more than four to six children and are called baby mothers. Mr. Gweh blamed the rise in teenage pregnancy and teen-motherhood on the refusal of the local population to take advantage of the free family planning service being offered at the clinic.
The family planning service, according to the local health official has been refused by the local population on the ground that it has side effects that could stand as an impediment for future childbearing for the young girls when they reach maturity.
Our correspondent who visited the community quoted the local health official as saying children of school going age in classes as low as 4thgrade; already have about four to six children.
Mr. Gweh told our correspondent that due to the influx of teenage pregnant girls at the clinic, the local clinic has also increase its daily referral cases to the Tappita Hospital by 80 percent.
Our correspondent said next to Toweh Town is Ganta, the commercial city of Nimba County, which he says has recorded teenage mothers between the ages of 12-14 years. Our correspondent said teenage mothers between the ages of 12 and 14 can been easily seen with their children in hand in Ganta.
Some women who spoke to our correspondent said, during their early childhood days it was very rare to see girls between the ages of 12 to 16 with baby. When asked, a mother of six told our correspondent that life seems to be changing, adding that many things are happening nowadays.
Mother Annie Paye noted that in the 60’s their parents used to have control over them but this time around, the issue of human rights has made children to treat parents with contempt when it comes to according them respect and enabling them to have complete control. Mother Paye, therefore called on the government to put in place measures that would curb the steady rise in teenage pregnancy and teen motherhood.
Other mothers who spoke to this paper in Nimba also blame their friends (mothers) who encourage their girls on the streets to engage in commercial sex for money to feed the family.