— Says Ambassador Wetterqvist
By: Edward Stemn
Swedish Ambassador to Liberia, Ingrid Wetterqvist, says when teenage pregnancy is reduced, it provides a better chance for preventing maternal and neonatal deaths.
Making the statement at the Tubman University in Maryland County on April 16, ambassador Wetterqvist told the gathering that young girls giving birth to babies at an early age makes them succumb to death also at an early age and at childbirth and if they would survive the education that would give them hope for the future is total derailed.
Additionally, the ambassador said misfortunes associated with maternal death also pose a challenge on society as many orphans are left for community dwellers to cater for. She took the time to urge young women to make use of contraceptives for family planning distributed at various health centers and education provided by health education providers at youth centers.
The Swedish Government is sponsoring sexual reproductive health project in Liberia, creating youth centers where women go to have education in sexual reproductive health and receive contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
It is working with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), BRAC, and Partners in Health in fostering sexual reproductive health in line with its Feminist Policy. Providing some background information about teenage pregnancy in Liberia, the ambassador said before beginning work in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, the rate of teenage pregnancy stood at 59%, but after three years of work, the rate has dropped to 23%. She furthered that in Fish Town, River Gee County, 18 to 20 young mothers died during childbirth, but last year the number dropped to two and now the record for this year has it at zero.
The progress, amb. Wetterqvist said, gives her the ground now to inform her government that Sweden is making progress in Liberia with a significant impact. The Swedish diplomat further pointed out that there are limited finances, though; there are people who can still help to mitigate these challenges most especially in the reduction of teenage pregnancy, maternal deaths, and other related issues.
Amb. Wetterquvist, at the same time, has urged the Liberia society to open more spaces for women in the Legislature; which according to her will enhance transformation in the country.
Swedish government engagement has opened up doors for many women to speak out. “If more spaces are giving to women, you will see your country transform. “We are here to supporting Liberia’s development plan with additional resources. In the southeastern part of Liberia we are engaged in developing farm-to-market roads, and the reduction of maternal mortality,” the Ambassador said.
For his part, the county Health officer of Maryland, Dr. Methodius George, said in 2019 when there was no youth friendly centers, the county recorded( 16) cases and in 2020 (3 ) three cases of maternal mortality. “With the assistance you are providing through Partners In Health, we are experiencing its impact on our health sector,” Dr. Methodius George said.
The Maryland County Health Officer further disclosed that the introduction of family planning has dropped the rate of teenage pregnancy rate has significantly. Dr. Methodius George lauded the efforts of the Swedish government for working with the County Health Team, and at the same time called on the Swedish government through her partner, PIH to extend the service to all of the 26 health facilities in the county.
Speaking for the county authority, the commissioner of Jacksonville Township, Mr. Jonathan Harmon, praised the Swedish government for its initiative in Maryland and Liberia at large. He then called on the Swedish government to continue its developmental initiatives, as Liberia is happy to work with them. “Maryland is pleased to have you here as your presence has dropped the increase in teenage pregnancy and maternal mortality in the county,” Commissioner Harmon.