Girls aged 15-19 years are more likely to die compared to young mothers (20-24 years) from pregnancy and birth complications including haemorrhage, unsafe abortion, and obstructed labour. They also face a higher risk of systemic infections, low weight babies and pre-term delivery (WHO, 2020).
For boys the same age, road accidents, drowning and violence are the most commons causes of death. Approximately 12 million girls aged 15-19 years and 777,000 girls under the age of fifteen give birth each year in developing regions (WHO, 2020).
The prevalence of teenage pregnancy in India is almost double in rural areas (9.2%), compared to urban areas (5%), (Suri (2018), the Observer Research Foundation).
Young female bodies are not ready for pregnancy, and when coupled with a lack of health services tailored to the need of adolescent girls, young mothers face fatal outcomes. Moreover, poverty exacerbates lack of access to health services, leading to high numbers of home births which can be dangerous.
It is vital to work to promote positive, dignified and respectful attitudes to girls and women and to enable girls and women to be confident about their rights, including sexual and reproductive rights.
Our partner, Association for Sarva Seva Farms (ASSEFA), worked in Tamil Nadu from 2017-2019 delivering a maternal health project in the Marakkanam area. Providing antenatal and post-natal health care services, alongside education in nutrition and environmental health, the programme aimed to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates and decrease the prevalence of low weight babies (less than 2.5Kg).
This programme successfully helped women that missed out on government programmes, aiding 150 women with check-ups and education, improved the sanitation of ten homes and trained 100 adolescent girls about their reproductive health.
Promotion of reproductive health among young women – Marakannam Block, Tamil Nadu
Action Village India continued to support ASSEFA’s post-tsunami work in 35 coastal villages in Tamil Nadu, just north of Pondicherry through this reproductive health project. The primary objective of the project is to inform, educate and sensitise young girls and women about menstrual hygiene and promote their reproductive health. The work included the distribution of sanitary napkins, soaps, masks, first aid kits and education material in the villages of Marakkanam area, while ensuring they were following the health and hygiene guidelines to prevent COVID.Maternal Health Project