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On July 27, 2016, Department of Health, Ministry of Public Health organized the press conference on “The Act for Prevention and Solution of the Adolescent Pregnancy Problem: will our children and youth really benefit from it?” in collaboration with the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA Thailand), Women’s Health Advocacy Foundation, Path2Health Foundation, Children and Youth Council of Thailand, and Youth Network of Bangkok.

Dr. Wachira Pengjuntr, Director-General of Department of Health said that on July 29 The Act for Prevention and Solution of the Adolescent Pregnancy Problem would be effective, from which the children and young people would enjoy 5 key benefits, as follows:

1. Educational institutions are to provide appropriate sexuality education, to recruit and develop teachers to be capable of providing sexuality education and counseling, to establish a system of assistance and protection for pregnant adolescents to receive suitable education, including establishing a referral system to ensure the receipt of social welfare provision;

2. Health facilities are to provide information and knowledge and deliver reproductive health services, including a referral system to ensure the receipt of social welfare provision;

3. Business establishment are to provide information and knowledge and support an access to reproductive health services, including a referral system to ensure the receipt of social welfare provision;

4. There will be social welfare provision relating to prevention and solution of the adolescent pregnancy problem; and

5. The local administration has the powers to prescribe local ordinances for adolescent right protection.

The Director-General also stated that in order to achieve the effective cooperation on the prevention and solution of the adolescent pregnancy problem, this newly effective Act requires that 5 main ministers, namely, Minister of Social Development and Human Security, Minister of Interior, Minister of Labour, Minister of Education, and Minister of Public Health, have the power to issue Ministerial Regulations and Rules for the execution of this Act on the matter relating to such Ministry. In addition, it is required that the Prevention and Solution of the Adolescent Pregnancy Problem Committee be established with the Prime Minister as the Chairperson and 2 representatives of children and youth as members while the Director-General of Department of Health is to be the member and secretary. The Committee is expected to propose policies and strategies to the Council of Ministers, to prescribe an operational guideline, and to provide consultation and recommendations to State agencies and private organizations. In this regard, voices of children and youth will be very useful as they could be guidelines for the drafting of the ministerial regulations to truly address the needs of children and youth.

Dr. Sirikiat Liangkobkit, Director of ThaiHealth’s Minor Health Risk Control Section, said that ThaiHealth had conducted a survey on The Act for Prevention and Solution of the Adolescent Pregnancy Problem with 3,053 high school and vocational school students in Bangkok and 4 major cities of Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Chon Buri and Songkhla, in July 2016. It was found that No. 1 cause of teenage pregnancy was imitation behavior influenced by peers and media (73.9%), closely followed by alcohol use (73%) and non custodial parent living arrangements (72.7%). In terms of the acceptance of pregnant peers during school years, it was found that the majority, 65.4%, could accept their peers while 28.4% were uncertain and 6.2% could not accept them. However, it was noteworthy that the accepting proportion among those below 15 years of age was lower, accounted for 58.3%, while the accepting proportion among girls was higher than among boys, 70.1% for girls and 59.8% for boys.

When asked about what they saw as the best benefit for the Act, it was found that the first was the rights to receiving reproductive health services in terms of promotion, prevention, treatment and remedy (99%), followed by receiving information and knowledge about reproductive health (98.8%), the rights to receiving equal social welfare provision without discrimination as a teen parent (94%), the right to confidentiality and privacy (93.4%), and the rights to continue their education for pregnant teens (87.3%).

For the feedbacks to their schools when the Act had become effective, it was found that what these young people wanted the most was: 1. comprehensive sexuality education, including contraception; 2. the cooperation with or sources of social assistance; and 3. personnel to care for pregnant students and referral arrangement to social welfare provision. In terms of their preferred clinic if they happened to visit for a help, it was found that the ideal clinic was the one that is youth-friendly and discrimination-free (79.3%), followed by the one that keeps the confidentiality of the visitors (74.2%) and the one that provides free services (70.1%). Finally, the most convenient method for the youth to seek help was the helpline or hotline, followed by email, Line or facebook, and visit the clinic in person as the last choice.

“Interestingly, these young people thought that if their close friends happened to get pregnant during the school year while the Act is in effect and the school and their teachers were ready to give them a chance, 50% of them chose to remain in school until the births while 43.6% decided to take leave and continue after the birth. This means if schools and teachers are open to provide them an opportunity, it will help reduce the dropout rate. Before, most of the girls decided to drop out when they became pregnant. However, the collaboration model between schools, communities, civil society and health facilities has already taken place in 20 provinces throughout Thailand where ThaiHealth has partnered up with the local mechanisms and is ready to generalize our implementation further,” said Dr. Liangkobkit.

Ms. Pattarawadee Jaithong, Vice President of the Children and Youth Council of Thailand, said that according to the youth forum to reflect on The Act for Prevention and Solution of the Adolescent Pregnancy Problem conferred by 11 youth groups it was found that many teachers failed to teach sex education in schools and had quite negative attitudes towards the students seeking consultation that they were trouble-makers. Therefore, teachers and administrators should have positive attitudes, be comfortable to teach and have accurate knowledge about the content. They should not consider this as pointing out the way for the villain because if the students become the villain their lives would be on the wrong path. There should be peer educators also for some students dare not talking to teachers directly. Counseling room should be set up like the teen’s corner in hospitals. When you people are not ready, individual program should be available. In visiting youth clinic, health providers, including doctors, nurses and other personnel working there should possess friendly attitudes and be  aware of confidentiality while no records should be kept. In addition, for young people who decide to become parents, there should be daycare centers for them to leave their kids while they are at schools or at work, as well as the vocational training units and business establishments to support them. In this regard, the youth networks are gathering opinions and feedbacks from young people across the country to make recommendations to The Act for Prevention and Solution of the Adolescent Pregnancy Problem and will propose such recommendations on August 22 when the meeting of the National Prevention and Solution of the Adolescent Pregnancy Problem Committee will be held. In addition, the youth networks will also closely monitor the implementation of the Act continually.

On July 27, 2016, Department of Health, Ministry of Public Health organized the press conference on “The Act for Prevention and Solution of the Adolescent Pregnancy Problem: will our children and youth really benefit from it?” in collaboration with the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA Thailand), Women’s Health Advocacy Foundation, Path2Health Foundation, Children and Youth Council of Thailand, and Youth Network of Bangkok.

Dr. Wachira Pengjuntr, Director-General of Department of Health said that on July 29 The Act for Prevention and Solution of the Adolescent Pregnancy Problem would be effective, from which the children and young people would enjoy 5 key benefits, as follows:

1. Educational institutions are to provide appropriate sexuality education, to recruit and develop teachers to be capable of providing sexuality education and counseling, to establish a system of assistance and protection for pregnant adolescents to receive suitable education, including establishing a referral system to ensure the receipt of social welfare provision;

2. Health facilities are to provide information and knowledge and deliver reproductive health services, including a referral system to ensure the receipt of social welfare provision;

3. Business establishment are to provide information and knowledge and support an access to reproductive health services, including a referral system to ensure the receipt of social welfare provision;

4. There will be social welfare provision relating to prevention and solution of the adolescent pregnancy problem; and

5. The local administration has the powers to prescribe local ordinances for adolescent right protection.

The Director-General also stated that in order to achieve the effective cooperation on the prevention and solution of the adolescent pregnancy problem, this newly effective Act requires that 5 main ministers, namely, Minister of Social Development and Human Security, Minister of Interior, Minister of Labour, Minister of Education, and Minister of Public Health, have the power to issue Ministerial Regulations and Rules for the execution of this Act on the matter relating to such Ministry. In addition, it is required that the Prevention and Solution of the Adolescent Pregnancy Problem Committee be established with the Prime Minister as the Chairperson and 2 representatives of children and youth as members while the Director-General of Department of Health is to be the member and secretary. The Committee is expected to propose policies and strategies to the Council of Ministers, to prescribe an operational guideline, and to provide consultation and recommendations to State agencies and private organizations. In this regard, voices of children and youth will be very useful as they could be guidelines for the drafting of the ministerial regulations to truly address the needs of children and youth.

Dr. Sirikiat Liangkobkit, Director of ThaiHealth’s Minor Health Risk Control Section, said that ThaiHealth had conducted a survey on The Act for Prevention and Solution of the Adolescent Pregnancy Problem with 3,053 high school and vocational school students in Bangkok and 4 major cities of Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Chon Buri and Songkhla, in July 2016. It was found that No. 1 cause of teenage pregnancy was imitation behavior influenced by peers and media (73.9%), closely followed by alcohol use (73%) and non custodial parent living arrangements (72.7%). In terms of the acceptance of pregnant peers during school years, it was found that the majority, 65.4%, could accept their peers while 28.4% were uncertain and 6.2% could not accept them. However, it was noteworthy that the accepting proportion among those below 15 years of age was lower, accounted for 58.3%, while the accepting proportion among girls was higher than among boys, 70.1% for girls and 59.8% for boys.

When asked about what they saw as the best benefit for the Act, it was found that the first was the rights to receiving reproductive health services in terms of promotion, prevention, treatment and remedy (99%), followed by receiving information and knowledge about reproductive health (98.8%), the rights to receiving equal social welfare provision without discrimination as a teen parent (94%), the right to confidentiality and privacy (93.4%), and the rights to continue their education for pregnant teens (87.3%).

For the feedbacks to their schools when the Act had become effective, it was found that what these young people wanted the most was: 1. comprehensive sexuality education, including contraception; 2. the cooperation with or sources of social assistance; and 3. personnel to care for pregnant students and referral arrangement to social welfare provision. In terms of their preferred clinic if they happened to visit for a help, it was found that the ideal clinic was the one that is youth-friendly and discrimination-free (79.3%), followed by the one that keeps the confidentiality of the visitors (74.2%) and the one that provides free services (70.1%). Finally, the most convenient method for the youth to seek help was the helpline or hotline, followed by email, Line or facebook, and visit the clinic in person as the last choice.

“Interestingly, these young people thought that if their close friends happened to get pregnant during the school year while the Act is in effect and the school and their teachers were ready to give them a chance, 50% of them chose to remain in school until the births while 43.6% decided to take leave and continue after the birth. This means if schools and teachers are open to provide them an opportunity, it will help reduce the dropout rate. Before, most of the girls decided to drop out when they became pregnant. However, the collaboration model between schools, communities, civil society and health facilities has already taken place in 20 provinces throughout Thailand where ThaiHealth has partnered up with the local mechanisms and is ready to generalize our implementation further,” said Dr. Liangkobkit.

Ms. Pattarawadee Jaithong, Vice President of the Children and Youth Council of Thailand, said that according to the youth forum to reflect on The Act for Prevention and Solution of the Adolescent Pregnancy Problem conferred by 11 youth groups it was found that many teachers failed to teach sex education in schools and had quite negative attitudes towards the students seeking consultation that they were trouble-makers. Therefore, teachers and administrators should have positive attitudes, be comfortable to teach and have accurate knowledge about the content. They should not consider this as pointing out the way for the villain because if the students become the villain their lives would be on the wrong path. There should be peer educators also for some students dare not talking to teachers directly. Counseling room should be set up like the teen’s corner in hospitals. When you people are not ready, individual program should be available. In visiting youth clinic, health providers, including doctors, nurses and other personnel working there should possess friendly attitudes and be  aware of confidentiality while no records should be kept. In addition, for young people who decide to become parents, there should be daycare centers for them to leave their kids while they are at schools or at work, as well as the vocational training units and business establishments to support them. In this regard, the youth networks are gathering opinions and feedbacks from young people across the country to make recommendations to The Act for Prevention and Solution of the Adolescent Pregnancy Problem and will propose such recommendations on August 22 when the meeting of the National Prevention and Solution of the Adolescent Pregnancy Problem Committee will be held. In addition, the youth networks will also closely monitor the implementation of the Act continually.

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