KINGSTON, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- A high-level regional consultation on adolescent pregnancy took place on Monday in Trinidad, seeking an holistic approach to tackle the issue in the Caribbean.
The consultation, organized by the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), involves various stakeholders, from civil societies and private sectors to the governments and the United Nations.
According to the UNFPA State of World Population 2013 report released in October, at least 70,000 adolescents in developing countries die from complications during pregnancy and childbirth annually.
In the Caribbean, despite the fall in total fertility rate, adolescent birth remains a tough issue, with an estimated 20 percent of women having given birth to at least one child by the age of 19.
The purpose of the consultation was to chart a course of action in the region to educate and support girls and to reduce adolescent pregnancy, which was among the Caricom's top priorities.
UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin hopes adolescent pregnancy in the region could be halved in the next four or five years.
Osotimehin pointed out that the issue of adolescent pregnancy, most of which occurs in the lower class, is also "the issue of inequity, rights of women and girls, and lack of information and access to services."
This was not just an issue of the governments, but also of civil societies and adolescents themselves, he stressed.
"Adolescent pregnancy should not be seen merely as a reproductive health issue. There are substantial economic, social and human costs attached to it and tackling this issue should be a priority of every member state of the Community," Douglas Slater, Caricom assistant secretary-general of human and social development, said.