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Municipality of Llanera initiates efforts to curb the problem of teenage pregnancy

Dr. George Repique, Jr., Provincial Health Officer II of Cavite, welcomes visitors from the Municipality of Llanera, Nueva Ecija. (PFernando/RTI)

Mr. Justin Celeste (right), Guidance Counsellor and Teen Health Kiosk Adviser at the Tanza National Comprehensive High School, discusses with members of the Lakbay Aral team the services and resources available at the Teen Health Kiosk.  (PFernando/RTI)

Teenage pregnancy has been on the rise in Llanera, a municipality in the Province of Nueva Ecija. From 27 cases in 2009, the number ballooned to 123 in 2013. The age at first birth has also gone down from 15 in 2009 to 13 in 2013. To help address these issues, USAID’s LuzonHealth Project, implemented by RTI, shared with Llanera the initiatives undertaken by Mankayan in Benguet, Cavite, and Oriental Mindoro, in responding to similar issues. 

Inspired by the experience of Cavite and given its proximity to Nueva Ecija, a 15-member Lakbay Aral team from the municipality, headed by the municipal mayor, set out to Cavite to gain first-hand information on these initiatives and gather useful insights on what it takes to put in place an effective program for adolescents and youth at the local level. The team visited the Provincial Health Office and two out of 11 school-based Teen Health Kiosks, where students discuss issues and concerns about growing up, relationship, sexuality, fertility, and teen pregnancy with trained peer educators, teacher-mentors, and counsellors. 

These visits provided the Llanera team with an opportunity to learn concrete models for youth engagement and empowerment to help delay sexual debut among adolescents, and ensure early detection and referral of pregnant teens to appropriate health facilities for antenatal care, skilled birth attendance, and facility-based delivery.

Armed with the learnings from the Lakbay Aral and with technical assistance from the LuzonHealth Project, Llanera is in the process of crafting a program that is consistent with the national policy and strategic framework on adolescent health and development and one that is truly responsive to the needs of its 8,168 adolescents and youth. On the Teen Health Kiosks, Dr. Maria Elena Oliva, Municipal Health Officer of Llanera, had this to say, We hope to replicate this once we go back to Llanera. I know that this is additional work for us but we will be able to do it if we work as a team.”