At the Adolescent Friendly Centre at Newton in the outskirts of Freetown, 17 year-old Augusta explains that she was 15 when she got pregnant. Now she regularly attends the Adolescent Friendly Health Centre where she receives contraceptives and helpful advice on safe sex. Augusta believes that if she had visited the centre when she was younger, she would not have become pregnant. “I advise teenage girls around Newton to visit the Adolescent Friendly Health Centre (AFHC) regularly for confidential counselling and reproductive health care services like contraception and STI prevention,” she says.
Under the President’s Recovery Priorities’ initiative to reduce teenage pregnancy, 100 AFHCs are being established around the country. These will provide free and confidential services and advice on safe sex and contraception to teenagers in a welcoming environment. Sixty AFHCs, staffed by trained service providers, are already operational and mapping is on-going for the location of the remaining 40.
Emma Kargbo, the nurse in charge of the Newton AFHC says that teenage pregnancy has become a serious concern for the community. Shortly after the centre was set up, they received a weekly average of 20 cases, some as young as 13.
However, according to Emma Kargbo, the AFHC, combined with community outreach programmes which raise awareness about the services on offer, is reducing the rate of teenage pregnancy.
According to the head of the Teenage Pregnancy Secretariat in the Ministry of Health, Sister Rugiatu: “The political commitment directed towards the implementation of the strategy with technical and financial support from donors and funding agencies will contribute to the reduction of teenage pregnancies nationwide