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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Isabela City in-school youths tackle reproductive health issues

By Rene V. Carbayas

ISABELA CITY, Basilan – More than 600 students from the different high schools in Isabela City tackled the issue on adolescence and youth reproductive health and committed to protect themselves from risky behaviors.

An inter-agency technical working group (TWG) on adolescence and youth reproductive health has visited at least five high schools in Isabela City for the campus tour youth forum on adolescence reproductive health.

Campus tour youth fora were conducted in the following schools: Basilan National High School (Feb 10), Begang National High School (Feb 11), Latuan National High School in Baluno (Feb 12), Isabela City National High School in Cabunbata (Feb 13), and Claret College of Isabela High School Department (Feb 27).

During the school visit, the TWG was divided into 3 teams to handle around 30 to 50 students where topics on love, courtship, adolescence reproductive health, risky behaviors, and the risks of teenage pregnancy and early marriage were discussed.

Prior to the visit, an assessment survey on the student’s psychosocial history was made to determine the student’s overall health makeup. This will also help in identifying students who needed counseling and help.

The team is composed of the Isabela City Health Office, Department of Education, City Population Office, Child Fund Philippines, the Philippine Information Agency, and Department of Health with funding support from Mindanao Health Program Jhpiego and IMPACT of USAID.

Data from the Isabela City Adolescence and Youth Reproductive Health Program of the city health office reveal that teenage pregnancy cases in the city is alarmingly high. Records show that there are 414 cases of teenage pregnancy in the city for 2014 alone. Health authorities fear that there are more unreported cases as data was gathered from those who only submitted for prenatal checkup.

Top barangays were Begang (44 cases), Baluno (33), Sumagdang (30), Sunrise (19), Tampalan (17), and 16 cases each for Aguada and Menzi.

Teachers and students have expressed their gratitude to the team for holding such rare awareness campaign on health and sexuality issues that shed light on the young minds experiencing confusion and emotional challenges of growing up.

“Sexuality education is not bad, as what was believed before. In fact, knowing the physical and emotional changes in adolescence will enable us to understand ourselves better, act better, and decide better,” a student from Begang National High School said as she gave her impression on the campus tour youth forum.

The AYRH Team believed that much more has to be done after the face to face encounter with the young people through the campus tour youth forum. The team realized the need to further create a follow up program that will address the concerns of the youth and hope to reduce incidence of teenage pregnancies in the city.