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FPA Joins Calls for Action on Teen Pregnancy Rates

Family Planning Joins Calls for Action on Teen Pregnancy Rates
26 July, 2006

The Family Planning Association has joined calls for the Government to make reducing teen pregnancies a priority. A number of groups, including representatives from the Families Commission, Family Works and the ministries of Social Development and Youth Development have expressed concern about New Zealand’s teen pregnancy rates following a recent meeting in Christchurch.

Family Planning Executive Director Dr Gill Greer says New Zealand has the third highest teen pregnancy rate in the developed world.

“For a number of complex reasons, many related to social and economic disadvantage, Maori have the highest teenage fertility rates, followed by Pacific women and then Pakeha women. We know from research that a number of these teenage pregnancies are unplanned.”

She says Family Planning has been calling for an integrated, whole of Government approach to teenage pregnancy issues for the past six years, that would involve a range of government agencies, District Health Boards, schools, local authorities, health providers, parents and young people.

“Overseas experience shows that it is possible to put measures in place that lead to a drop in teenage pregnancy rates – but taking action just doesn’t seem to be a priority for this Government.

“A Teenage Pregnancy Strategy introduced in England in 1999 has been followed by a fall in the rate of teenage motherhood of 15 percent for those under 18 years of age, and the fall in conception rates for those under 16 years is similar. The strategy includes the provision of better sex and relationships education and improving access to contraception and sexual health services; encouraging co-ordination between national and local sexual health agencies and social agencies; and better support for teenage parents and their children. An ongoing national media awareness campaign for teenagers is an integral part of the strategy, together with high-level monitoring and evaluation.

“Many of these approaches are included in New Zealand’s 2001 Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy. We know what works – we need to act on it.”

ENDS

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