A total of 1,925 in-school youth (ISY) ages 10-19, together with guidance counselors, population officers and members of the Junior Catholic Women’s League from the different cities and provinces in Region 2 participated in the first ever 2021 Virtual Youth Symposium on Teenage Pregnancy amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic conducted on September 15-17, 2021.

              The activity, which will run in six (6) batches aims to inform and educate adolescents on responsible sexuality, as well as the causes and effects of teenage pregnancy.

In her welcome message, POPCOM-Region II Director Herita O. Macarubbo emphasized the importance of educating every youth on the correct and age-appropriate information about adolescent sexuality and reproductive health (ASRH) as one of the main strategies to avoid teenage pregnancy. Alarming statistics on the cases of adolescent girls who have begun childbearing and the latest adolescent birth rate of the region were also shared during the activity.

              Based on the reports submitted by the local government units, the teenage pregnancy rate (TPR) in Region 2 is continuously declining for the past four years. In 2017, the TPR is at 2.58 and it gradually declined to 1.85 in 2020. Among the five provinces, Isabela recorded the highest TPR in 2020 at 2.3 while of the four cities, the City of Ilagan ranked first at 2.4.  Although it is declining, one pregnant teenager is still too many according to former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral.

              Interesting topics like causes and effects of early sexual engagement, how to say NO to teenage pregnancy, as well as the do’s and don’ts of teen dating were also discussed during the webinar.

              The 2017 Adolescent Health and Development (AHD) Film Festival Best Film entitled “Hu U?” of the Luis Palad Integrated High School in Tayabas, Quezon was featured to emphasize the importance of knowing and understanding one’s self as one of the important life skills an adolescent must have in order to cope with the demands and challenges of everyday life.

              The activity also gained active participation while learning thru the fun online games related to AHD. Prizes in the form of cellphone load were immediately given to the lucky winners aside from the tokens to be provided by CVCHD.

              Dr. Brian Niño C. Galapia, the CVCHD Family Health Cluster Head expressed his all-out support to the campaign against teenage pregnancy and stressed that the students should value the learnings they gained from the activity to reach their full potentials.

The webinar was highlighted with the generation of the insights and views of the participants thru the use of the tagline of the Department of Health’s Adolescent Health and Development Program (AHDP): iCHOOSE with the hashtag #MalayaAkongMaging.

              Three (3) batches with more or less 250 out-of-school youths (OSYs) in the region will participate in the same activity on October 11-13, 2021.