ANTANANARIVO, April 29 (Xinhua) -- Chiefs of tribes in Madagascar are trying to change the comportment of girls on early sexual life in the country, a statement from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said on Monday.
The UNFPA said that early entry into sexual life will be risky for girl who gets pregnant before reaching the age of 18, puts her life and her baby at risk.
Sexuality and procreation are traditionally early in Madagascar. Ten percent of teenagers have a child before the age of 15. Over half of the 22 million population in Madagascar are less than 18 years, according to the results of the survey on the MDGs monitoring 2012-2013.
In Madagascar, traditions and customs play an important role in a changing society. Customary practices exist and still govern the life of the community. Chiefs of tribes or traditional leaders are more respected and play an important role in education, conflict resolution, and the application of customary laws.
UNFPA gathered 120 tribe leaders from across the country during a three-day symposium, which began on Monday in Mahajanga, 560 kilometers northwest of Madagascar's capital.
This symposium was aimed at revitalizing commitment of these chiefs of tribes to contribute to the promotion of maternal health and create a favorable environment for the Malagasy population, particularly for women and young, according to the statement.
"The fight against maternal and neonatal mortality is now a public health priority, a social, moral and political imperative, that is part of the promotion of human rights and women in particular," the UNFPA representative to Madagascar said during the opening ceremony.
According to data from the ministry of Health, the maternal mortality rate in Madagascar is 498 per 100,000 live births.