By Caribbean Medical News Staff

Assistant Secretary General, Human and Social Development of CARICOM, Vincentian Dr.Douglas Slater said that delaying pregnancies to later in a woman’s twenties is better for the GDP the Caribbean region.

He made his remarks to the Trinidad press previous to the Opening Sessions of the “High Level Consultation on the Reduction of Adolescent Pregnancy in the Caribbean”.

Slater indicated that the “the political directorate” of CARICOM countries were able to get information from the studies undertaken over many years and had they done so, the framework for reducing adolescent pregnancy, gender-based violence and other related issues could be properly developed and adequate responses and proactive programmes put in place.

The report cited a 2009 study commissioned by CARICOM regarding the cost and return on investment/benefits to be derived from investing in the youth. According to the report the direct financial costs per adolescent mother in the Caribbean is US $2,000 per year or in total, 2.43 percent of the region’s GDP. The report also stated approximately 20 percent of Caribbean women have had at least one child by the age of 19, “with a considerable percentage of adolescent girls even giving birth before the age of 15.”

The report made it clear that there was not only an economic impact including substantive costs to society for adolescent pregnancy but indeed the young women were deprived of self-determination through education and other means, inability to reach their full potential and realize goals and dreams and an inability to exercise their rights. The inability to reach “their full potential” by this report was quantified to be as much as 12.3% of the region’s GDP.

“Therefore,” the report noted, “investing in the reduction of adolescent pregnancy could lead to important economic and social gains.”


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