Kyiv, Ukraine, 10 July 2013 - In Ukraine, the adolescent pregnancy rate is comparable to the average of the European Union countries. However, over the last five to seven years, Ukraine experienced increasingly earlier sexual début among adolescents which brought up a number of social challenges not only with regard to the prevention of unwanted pregnancies, but also the risk of HIV and STIs.

Despite expansion of family planning services, abortion remained a relatively common family planning practice in Ukraine until recently. In early 1990s, there were up to one million abortions per year. Today, however, because family planning is more readily available and understood, there are fewer unplanned pregnancies, and therefore fewer abortions. According to the Ministry of Health, there were about 180,000 abortions performed in Ukraine in 2011 and 141,000 in 2012. While this is still high compared to European standards, these figures indicate a significant decrease in abortions in the country. Moreover, the teenage abortion rate has declined almost three times from 7,74 (number of abortions for every 1000 girls aged 15-17) in 2001 to 2,51 in 2012.

These positive changes have several underlying causes. The Government of Ukraine increasingly recognizes the need to promote the healthy development of young people through youth friendly health services. A number of legislative and strategic documents, approved by the Government, give priority to young people’s reproductive health. The national programme “Reproductive Health of the Nation” (2006-2015) defines its main objectives as “preserving the reproductive health of the population” and “shaping reproductive health in children and youth”. National programme «Youth of Ukraine» for the period of 2009-2015 also recognizes health of young people, including promotion of health lifestyles as a national priority. Access to quality family planning services, including counselling on modern methods of contraception has been significantly improved as a result of comprehensive state and donors efforts focused on increasing access to RH/FP services.

In spite of the above good progress there is no room for complacency and the situation with teenage sexual and reproductive health still remains fragile in Ukraine. The statistics shows that despite drastic reduction of the number of abortions among girls aged 15-17, the number of abortions for girls younger than 14 years old has plateued over the last several years. Similarly, the number of deliveries among adolescent girls in Ukraine (aged 15-17) also remains unchanged (from 10.02 (number of deliveries for every 1000 girls aged 15-17) in 2001 to 10.03 in 2012).

Adolescent pregnancy is not just a health issue, it is a development issue. It is deeply rooted in poverty, gender inequality, violence, child and forced marriage, power imbalances between adolescent girls and their male partners, lack of education, and the failure of systems and institutions to protect their rights.

The UNFPA in Ukraine jointly with the Government of Ukraine and partner agencies continues its efforts aimed at strengthening access to youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services especially in rural areas of Ukraine, where around 35% of current adolescent population of Ukraine resides; and promoting healthy life style and responsible parenthood through rolling out of educational programs.

UNFPA in Ukraine web-site: www.unfpa.org.ua

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