The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry has allocated RM3.78 million since 2010 for nationwide awareness programmes to curb problems of teen pregnancy, many of which lead to baby dumping.

Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun, its deputy minister, said the allocated funds were controlled by the National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN), and have hosted the programmes for teenagers in schools and communities.

According to Datuk Azizah, from 2014 to 2016, 147 programmes were carried out by the ministry, with a total of 7,730 participants that included teens and parents.

"We also conducted studies to have a better understanding of the issue of illegitimate pregnancies in teenagers," she added.

Multi-factoral issues behind teen pregnancies

One of the studies looked at youth intervention programmes in Malaysia and is currently at the final phase, due to be published later in the year.

The study will help determine the problems behind the issue holistically as well as examine intervention programmes that would be suitable, Datuk Azizah said.

Highlighting the study methods, she said that the study was extended to high risk groups and an impact study targeted at teenagers was carried out.

Preliminary results determined that the factors behind teen pregnancy was multi-factoral and can arise from individuals themselves, families, peers, lack of or religious understandings, an unhealthy environment and an uncaring community, Datuk Azizah said.

Public and private hospitals urged to help and eliminate discrimination

The Beaufort MP said through an intervention programme introduced by LPPKN in 2006, called kafe@TEEN, 381,952 teenagers have since then followed through the youth-friendly health programmes.

27,651 teenagers out of the total, have received health reproductive services and a total of 7,993 received counselling.

Efforts have also been made to eliminate discrimination that pregnant teenagers usually face. Public institutions have also been encouraged to attend to their health.

Datuk Azizah said through the Ministry of Health, pregnant mothers, regardless of marital status, were always welcome to visit public medical facilities for consultation and seek advice and help for birthing.

In private hospitals, programmes such as OpenCare have been implemented, also to provide help to unwed pregnant teens. So far, 35 out-of-wedlock babies were delivered under the programme.

PAS lawmaker proposes punishment for sex between unmarried couples

Meanwhile, a PAS lawmaker has proposed enforcing caning as a punishment on unmarried couples who engage in sexual activities to reduce the number of out-of-wedlock pregnancies in the country.

Datuk Dr Nik Mazian Nik Mohamad put forward the idea during the parliamentary session on 15 March regarding pre-teen pregnancies.

Datuk Azizah said she was in no position to provide a comment, but assured that unmarried pregnant teens would not be discriminated against and that the families would be given an option to raise the baby or place the child in a foster home until the child is 18 years of age. MIMS

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