There were 55 cases of teenage deliveries nationwide as of mid September this year according to records maintained by the national referral hospital in Thimphu. The maximum deliveries were from 18 year olds.
Medical superintendent Gosar Pemba said they receive more than 4,000 deliveries a year of which 50 to 60 are teen deliveries. Of this one or two cases are reported to police if it is a suspicious case.
“On our part we do not try to penalize or judge anyone but encourage every pregnant teenage girl to come forward for regular check-up and for safe delivery in hospital,” he said.
“There is no written directive from anywhere that we have to report cases of teenage delivery and our interest is not to find out who the father is whether the mother is under age or not. Our only intention is to prevent death of the mother and the child.”
He said that if they start reporting every such case to police the pregnant teenage girls wouldn’t be ready to come and deliver in hospital.
From the ministry’s side unless there are complications or if the parents of the girl want to report the issue or if they find suspicious, then they assist them he said.
He also said that though teenage pregnancy is considered as rape by the penal code of Bhutan though the reality is something else.
According to the medical superintendent maximum cases are from rural Bhutan. He said that in the rural areas any girls are married before they turn 18.
However, knowing the consequences of them not coming forward for check up or delivery, the ministry talked to them on this issue.
He said that, if they suspect that a pregnant teen girl could be in danger during delivery, the case is forwarded to a higher center.
There is associated risk with a teenage pregnancy because the girl’s body is still growing and when they need to provide nutrition to another body (baby), than the girl is not going to develop into a healthy person later on. He also said that mothers below 16 years of age might not be able to take care of the baby.
He also said that they have a delivery plan to be implemented by rural BHU’s health workers on how they will handle if complications occur, where they will take (a nearby hospital), how they will take, and contact numbers.
“We don’t want to ask and pressurize the girl who is pregnant, but we want them to come forward so that we can reduce infant mortality and maternal mortality,” he said.
In 2015, JDWNRH received 65 teenage deliveries with the maximum being at 18 years.