The Ministry of Health is working to make maternal and child health handbook into web-based mother and child tracking system to provide better continued care to pregnant women and children below five years.

Programme officer with reproductive maternal and newborn health programme, Pema Lethro, said that because healthcare providers were the first point of contact once a woman conceives, the system would help provide better care to mothers and children.

The system started in about 65 healthcare centres with internet connectivity by the end of 2017.

Pema Lethro said that once the system coverage reaches 100 percent, the ministry would work towards providing message alerts for scheduled check-ups.

According to National Statistics Bureau’s report on sexual and reproductive health of adolescents and youth in Bhutan, more than 43 percent of the women aged between 15 and 49 years said they experienced first pregnancy between 11 and 19 years.

Pema Lethro said that when a pregnant teenager cannot avail of health services, consequences such as resorting to illegal abortions, low performance and dropping out of school, increase in maternal and child mortality, decrease in antenatal and institutional delivery, people’s waning trust and confidence in health and also the decrease in work motivation of the health workers could happen.

He added that poor background, women having less education, not having a marriage certificate, and being separated after marriage are some of the factors influencing teenage pregnancy. “Teenage pregnancy will lead to still birth as physiological construct of the mother is not matured enough to reproduce. If the mother is a teenager, she is also more likely to give birth to preterm babies.”

He said that the matter of teenage pregnancy should be discussed among different sectors. “Multi-sectoral collaboration is needed. We are from different backgrounds and we have our own role in terms of making sure our kids are informed.”

Karma Cheki