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Northern Region’s high maternal deaths due to early marriages

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Most maternal deaths recorded in the Northern Region are as a result of early marriages.

In 2009, for example, 56 out of 96 maternal deaths recorded in the region were between 20-34 years, while in 2008 and 2007 the region recorded 68 out of 91 deaths and 59 out of 115 maternal deaths respectively.

Alhaji Abdul-Rahaman Yakubu, Northern Regional Health Promoter, revealed this at the launch of the Innovative Sexuality Education Project (ISEP) by the Northern Sector Awareness Centre (NORSAAC), a gender based advocacy Non –Governmental Organisation (NGO), in Tamale on Friday.

The launch of the Project was on the theme: “Promoting sexuality education at all levels- an effective approach to achieving MDG 4 and 5”.

The Project which is being implemented by NORSAAC is funded by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) at the cost of 254,000 US dollars and seeks to educate adolescents on their reproductive health.

Alhaji Yakubu said there were growing numbers of pregnancies and abortions among teenagers, both in and out of school confirming that young people were sexually active.

He said biologically, boys as young as 14 or 15 years can and are fathering children while girls between the ages of 12 to 14 had become pregnant even before their first menstrual period.

The Regional health promoter said the 2008 Ghana Demographic Health Survey (GDHS) indicated that there had been a significant increase in the proportion of urban young women who started child bearing from 7 to 11 percent while there was a decline in the use of family planning from 19 to 17 percent.

Alhaji Yakubu praised NORSAAC for initiating the Project and said sexuality education would help reveal risks of sexual and physical abuse and even substance abuse among adolescents so that they could be assisted early enough before harm was caused.

Mr. Alhassan Mohammed Awal, Director of NORSAAC, said the ISEP Project was a build-up of a community based sexuality education project (CBSEP) developed by his organisation and its partner in Denmark and sponsored by DANIDA.

He said under the CBSEP, 50 facilitators made up of 30 teachers from 15 schools and 20 youth leaders from ten communities in the Savelugu/Nanton, Tolon/Kumbungu districts and the Tamale metropolis were leading the process in schools and communities using dialogue based sexuality education tools to educate the people.

He said under the current ISEP Project, NORSAAC would be addressing the growing concerns of over 300,000 young people in four operating districts adding that 50 youth leaders and teachers would be supported with logistics to educate over 250 teachers annually.

He said young people who fall within the age group of 10-20 would also meet periodically to share experience and learn from one another.

Mr. Awal said the 2008 Ghana Demographic Health Survey indicated that 13 per cent of women aged 15-19 were already mothers or pregnant with their first child adding that teenage child bearing was highest in the Northern and Central regions with 23 percent and lowest in the Western and Greater Accra regions with 7 percent.

He said women with no education were more likely to have children at an early age than with secondary or higher education which translated into percentage form represented 31 percent compared to 1 percent.

Source: GNA

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