Schoolgirl pregnancies cost Panama $ 525 million in one year

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(MENAFN- Panama Newsroom) Teenage pregnancies in Panama in 2019 cost the country $ 525 million, according to a report on the socio-economic consequences of teenage pregnancies in Panama, prepared by the United Nations Population Fund.

José Manuel Pérez, representative of the Population Fund in Panama, said the amount is equivalent to what the state would lose if the canal stopped functioning for more than three months. “If action is not taken, the consequences of not addressing the problem can generate irreversible economic losses,” he said.

Of this amount, $ 495 million is the socioeconomic cost, which includes factors such as the opportunity cost per occupation, the opportunity cost of labor income, and the opportunity cost per job.

The cost of health includes $ 15.3 million for social losses due to maternal mortality and health expenses for teenage pregnancies. Also, on the tax impact, $ 15 million for the shortfall.

In 2019, the Panama Canal Authority transferred $ 1.824.1 billion to the National Treasury. The figure equates to nearly $ 5 million per day of channel operation, Perez said.

Every action to prevent teenage pregnancy is an act to ensure the development and growth of the country. “If action is not taken, the consequences of untreated teenage pregnancies can generate irreversible economic losses, both for girls and adolescents and for the country as a whole,” Pérez said,

Reports presented by Unfpa and the Ministry of Health (Minsa) show alarming figures for teenage pregnancies since the fertility rate of young people between 15 and 19 years old is 67.2 live births per 1,000 women.

Statistics from the Comptroller General of the Republic show that in 2019 there were 11,809 live births to teenage mothers (15 to 19 years old)

The United Nations System Resident Coordinator in Panama, Cristian Munduate, noted that teenage pregnancy is linked to poverty and the reproduction of social inequalities; at the same time, it reflects situations of violence and sexual abuse, and that early motherhood is linked to difficulties in creating a protective and nurturing family environment for children.

Last year, according to Minsa data, 9,724 young people between the ages of 10 and 19 entered antenatal care amid the Covid-19 pandemic – at their addiction facilities. There are 5,072 more young people than those who took control in 2019 when they were 4,652. These statistics do not include the population who received care at the Social Security Fund or in private clinics.

Sex education
Currently, in a bill of the National Assembly Committee, 657 is being analyzed, aimed at establishing an education program for the prevention of underage pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and sexual offenses.

The legislative initiative was presented on August 4 by independent deputies Gabriel Silva and Juan Diego Vásquez.

Since 2008, three controversies have been unleashed in the country around comprehensive sex education, since the presentation before the National Assembly of various bills that sought to adopt public policies inherent to the problem, reports La Prensa. They have all been blocked by religious groups who take thousands of demonstrators to the streets.

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