KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC) – Teenage pregnancy continues to be a major concern for the Ministry of Health with eight girls between the ages of 11 and 14 years giving birth in 2012, St Vincent Health Minister Clayton Burgin told Parliament.
He said that teenage pregnancy remains high even as the nation recorded a constant decrease in the number of babies dying before birth.
“The area that continues to worry my ministry is teenage pregnancy. The teenage pregnancy rate in 2012 remained high, standing at 17.9 per cent, with eight girls between 11 and 14 giving birth,” he told lawmakers on Monday.
“A coordinated effort is needed to tackle this problem. It will require the input of every sector of society to correct this problem.”
The age of consent in St Vincent and the Grenadines is 16 years and a person having sex with a girl under that age can be charged with one or more of several crimes.
Burgin’s comments came as he lauded improvement in both prenatal and neonatal mortality rates.
He said the neonatal mortality rates continues to decline, standing at 50.4 per 1,000 in 2010, 11.5 in 2011, and 7.44 in 2012, while the stillbirth rate fell to from 20.3 in 2011 to 14.6 in 2012.
Burgin said last year, the prenatal mortality rate stood at 22.05 per 1,000 total births the lowest recorded since 2007. In 2010, it was 33.8 and 31.9 in 2011.
“Mr Speaker, when one considers that St Vincent and the Grenadines does not possess the technological capabilities and sophistication as the more developed countries, to have such a steady decline of deaths in the prenatal period is indeed a remarkable feat,” Burgin said, noting however, there was an increase in the number of babies born with birth defect.
Burgin said that the figures were in the normal international standards and “even more favourable that some of our Caribbean neighbours and also throughout the world.
“I am pleased to say that despite our challenges in 2012, the maternal and child health services at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital and the community health service registered a good year in 2012,” the health minister said.