ASUNCION – The Paraguayan government presented on Tuesday a family planning manual including information about contraceptive measures designed, among other things, to help prevent pregnancies among girls between 10-14 years of age.
Pregnancies among girls in that age group have risen by 62 percent over the past decade in Paraguay, according to figures from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The manual, presented by officials at the Health Ministry, contains information about the physical and psychological consequences of pregnancy at early ages and also alerts the public to the practices that increase maternal mortality during pregnancy.
The general director of Paraguay’s Health Programs, Lida Sosa, explained at the presentation that family planning has helped to reduce infant mortality but it has not managed to reduce the number of teen pregnancies.
Sosa also emphasized that the children of teen mothers show greater neonatal mortality rates and have higher probabilities of dying during childbirth.
The official also emphasized the importance of contraceptive measures as a way of exercising the right to family planning recognized in the Paraguayan Constitution.
Contraceptives “contribute to strengthening the rights of people in deciding the number of children they want to have and the interval between pregnancies and thus ... to reducing maternal deaths, facilitating (the ability of) women to become pregnant under the best health conditions,” Sosa said.
The concept of sexual and reproductive education is what, according to Sosa, family planning offers, and is something in which men can also be involved to create a broader concept of sexual and reproductive health.
The UNFPA also warns that pregnancy in girls under age 15, because of their lack of physical development, brings with it serious health risks, including spontaneous abortions, premature births, children with low birth weights and greater need for Caesareans during birth.
In Paraguay, abortion is prohibited by law, and the physical and psychological risks for pregnant girls and teens is a problem for the South American country, where 17 percent of maternal deaths come as a result of teen pregnancy.