Teenage pregnancy is a major public health and social problem the world over and its incidence is on the increase.
Concern about the increase in unmarried adolescent pregnancy has been expressed throughout Africa.
This phenomenon with detrimental effects for African society has contributed to higher infant mortality, increased maternal morbidity and mortality and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, STDs.
Researches indicate that the countries of sub-Saharan Africa have the highest level of early childbearing in the world.
Pregnancies among adolescents constitute a health hazard both to the mothers and the fetus.
The mother is at increased risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension, anemia, and obstructed labour.
The main issues that have strongly influenced the pattern of adolescent pregnancy include the increase in the number of years spent in school which influences the timing of marriage.
The reason for teenage pregnancy varies from country to country and from region to region within the same country.
Factors that are associated with teenage pregnancy include rapid urbanization, low socioeconomic status, low educational and career aspirations, residence in a single parent home and poor family relationship.
The emotional trauma associated with an unwanted pregnancy in adolescents can be overwhelming.
The society is absolutely judgmental when it comes to issues of adolescent pregnancy.
This attitude has however not diminished the incidence of unwanted pregnancies amongst Nigerian adolescents.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, an estimated 1.25 million induced abortions occurred in Nigeria in 2012, equivalent to a rate of 33 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 49.
The estimated unintended pregnancy rate was 59 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 49 years.
A situation where many parents and guardians in Nigeria are still unwilling to discuss sexuality education with their teenage and adolescent boys and girls portends danger as sexual intercourse without contraceptives could result to unintended pregnancy while some may end in abortion.
Premarital sex by singles whether boys or girls, is viewed as an aberration. Based on cultural and religious factors, opening discussions around safe sex and the use of family planning services for singles are not encouraged and this has been the pattern in the country.
To address this situation, ‘Life planning for adolescents and youths (LPAY) was conceived for ages 15-24 years.
This group have a lot of challenges to deal with which include physical changes in their body, psychological changes in their minds, self awareness, ideology formation and even new hormonal experiences.
It has been argued that what young people need is not family planning but life planning and this is an intentional focus on adolescents and youth sexual and reproductive health to increase demand for reproductive health information and services.
This component will address current challenges facing young people’s access to life planning, proactively considering the impact of interventions on young people and tailor them to have a deeper impact and wider spread among youths.
Adolescents and young people go through different maturity stages and this could affect their emotional, physical and mental abilities.
This period of transition from childhood to adulthood requires special attention and protection.
Significant changes and milestones are recorded during this period and the struggles for self-identification and recognition are sometimes drastic.
Life planning helps them to understand how their bodies work and equip them with information and skills to make informed decisions about their reproductive health.
Access to safe abortion is essential so that women who need abortion care do not have to resort to unsafe procedures.
If life planning programme is explored by the youths and the adolescents, teenage pregnancy and abortion would reduced drastically and they will be equipped with adequate knowledge about sexuality education and motivate them to understand behaviour that reduce sexual risks.