Liberia: UNFPA, Sweden Lauded for Reduction in Teenage Pregnancies



Local authorities in five Southeastern counties have commended the Embassy of Sweden and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for the decline in teenage pregnancies in the southeastern region.

Speaking last week to a team from the Embassy of Sweden and UNFPA on a tour of the Southeast, local authorities said that they observed decline in teenage pregnancy across the region as the result of the “Universal Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Programme” implemented in the five counties with funding from the Embassy of Sweden. 

The team was led by the Swedish Ambassador accredited to Liberia, Urban Sjöström and UNFPA Liberia Country Representative, Ms. Bidisha Pillai.

According to the health officers of the five counties, there has been at least a 50 percent reduction in teenage pregnancy across their respective counties since the start of the intervention in 2017.

The Programme is UNFPA's support to the Ministry of Health (MOH). It provides adolescents, and young people access to youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services to prevent unplanned pregnancies.

The Programme uses a three-pronged approach, including schools, communities, and health facilities, to reach adolescents and young people with sexual reproductive and rights information and services, including family planning.

The school-level intervention includes the provision of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) at select schools by trained teachers and sexual and reproductive health information by peer educators through School Health Clubs. 

The School Health Clubs team members are mentored to provide sexual reproductive and rights information in schools to adolescents and young people, distribute condoms and refer their peers to the nearest YFC for services.

The community-level intervention works with Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) to reach out to out-of-school adolescents and young people with SRHR information and services.

At the health facilities are youth-friendly corners/centers where adolescents and young people access services, including family planning, treatment of STIs, HIV counseling and testing, and post-abortion cares.

Meanwhile, community members and the Programme's beneficiaries have joined their authorities in commending UNFPA and the Embassy of Sweden for the initiative. Several women and girls said the Programme was helping adolescents and young people, particularly girls, prevent unplanned pregnancies.

“I am glad that my two girls have the opportunity to prevent unplanned pregnancy. This opportunity is helping them to remain in school,” says Madam Lucretia Wesseh, a resident of Fish Town, River Gee County.

For Miss Vistina T. Christian, a student of the Sinoe Multilateral High School, Greenville, Sinoe County, the Universal Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Programme, has helped her to remain on track with her educational goals. “Through the programme, I have learned that sex comes with responsibilities and consequences for which I must choose wisely. So that is why I decided to access family planning to avoid unwanted pregnancy,” she said.

At the same time, local authorities and beneficiaries of the Programme are appealing to UNFPA and the Embassy of Sweden to expand the intervention to cover all of the schools and health facilities within Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru, Maryland, River Gee, and Sinoe, respectively.