Pregnancy is biggest killer of teenage girls worldwide
Pregnancy is the number one killer of teenage girls, according to a report published this week by the charity Save The Children.
The report, ‘Every Woman’s Right: How Family Planning Saves Lives’ reveals that over one million girls die or are seriously injured due to pregancy each year.
It has been published ahead of a Family Planning Summit in London next month.
Hosted by the British Government and the Gates Foundation, the summit aims to address the family planning needs of women in the world’s poorest countries, where it is estimated that over 200 million women who would otherwise want to prevent pregnancy, have no access to contraceptives.
The risk to their children is just as serious. For mothers under 18, their babies’ chance of dying in the first year of life is 60 per cent greater than that of a baby born to someone aged 19 or older.
The chief executive of Marie Stopes, Dana Hovig, explains the stark reality of what this means:
“Every year 358,000 women die due to pregnancy or childbirth – that’s one woman every two minutes. Many of those women did not plan to be pregnant. Equally tragic is that 47,000 women die every year because of unsafe abortions.”
The summit will address these horrifying statistics, and the UK will play its part in the UN’s “Every Woman, Every Child” global strategy.
International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, said:
“Every woman should be able to choose whether and when she has children, yet for 215 million women across the developing world this is not an option.
“The UK Government is determined to take action. We will work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and our partners to improve the lives of millions of girls and women in the poorest countries who want to avoid pregnancy and improve their health, education and future chances.”
They hope that over the next eight years 120 million women will be given access to contraceptives. Crucially, this will be accompanied by a widespread effort to empower women and girls through education and the law.
For the many young girls and women at risk this will be a vital lifeline, and it is estimated that access to family planning could reduce maternal deaths by a third.
Save The Children have set up a petition to urge British prime minister, David Cameron, and those at the Family Planning Summit to commit to providing the funds and resources needed to create this change.
“The issue of children having children – and dying because their bodies are too immature to deliver the baby – is a global scandal,” said Save the Children’s chief executive Justin Forsyth.
“In the developing world, family planning isn’t just a lifestyle choice. Children’s lives depend on it.”
To add your support to the petition click here.