Abilan, Buenavista – Part of its continuing advocacy to further address the various pressing issues that the young people are facing today, including teenage pregnancy and HIV-AIDS, a select out-of-school youth (OSY) volunteers from different areas in the region, capacitated recently with leadership skills as peer educators to effectively and properly guide their peers in making responsible and informed decisions in relation to their sexuality and making referrals to an appropriate agency.

POPCOM, along with its partners, continuously implement age-and development-appropriate education and counseling on sexuality and reproductive health throughout the region; educate and engage parents and communities to initiate opportunities for positive youth development and involvement; intensifying the ongoing teenage pregnancy awareness prevention through various Adolescent Health and Development (AHD) key strategies; and continue to provide all Caraganon youth with access to reproductive healthcare and preventive services.

POPCOM emphasizes that young people should not be deprived for reproductive health services and comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) for these would help them become healthy, happy and empowered individuals.

Based on the 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), percentage of women age 15-19 in Caraga who have begun childbearing, significantly decreased from 38 percent in 2013 to 8.2 percent in 2017. Said survey results placed Caraga at number 8 among other regions in the country from its previous rank 1 in 2013.

However, POPCOM underlined that the said survey also revealed that the Philippines still has the highest number of teenage pregnancy among other Asian countries.

Increasing births among adolescents is one critical emerging population issue, POPCOM disclosed.

On one hand, from 1995 to September 2018, there were 581 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases recorded region-wide with 45 reported HIV-AIDS related deaths, according to the Department of Health-Caraga.

Most of the cases recorded 552 (95%) were males while 29 cases (5%) were females and most of these cases were from 15-24 and 25-34 year age groups.

Alarmed on said issues, POPCOM designed the AHD to significantly reduce and prevent early, unintended, and repeated pregnancies among adolescents through responsible sexuality and effective life skills among young people. Among POPCOM’s AHD initiatives, are Peer Educators’ Training; Sexually Healthy and Personally Empowered (SHAPE) Adolescents Training; SHAPE Mobile Academy; U4U Teen Trail; Parent-Teen Talk; Learning Package on Parent Education for Adolescent Health and Development (LPPEAHD); and AHD Film Dissemination.