11 Jul 2013

Pacific told to focus on adolescent sexual health

3:15 pm on 11 July 2013

A group promoting adolescent sexual health and reproductive rights says Pacific governments need to prioritise the issue.

The issue of adolescent pregnancy, which aligns with the efforts of the New Zealand Parliamentarians' Group on Population and Development, is the theme of today's World Population Day.

A report by the group concludes about 16 million girls aged 15-19 give birth each year and complications from pregnancy and child birth are the leading cause of death among girls in this age group.

The vice chair of the New Zealand group, Maryan Street, says adolescent pregnancy in the Pacific is a significant issue and says the region's leaders must address it.

"If we can persuade MPs and ministers of health in each of these countries to prioritise more highly sexual and reproductive health in young people, then there is a knock on effect. It's got to come from the top."

Maryan Street says one of the solutions is to increase access to comprehensive sexual education and adolescent-friendly health services.