Sarawak steps up efforts to prevent teenage pregnancies, says state minister

State Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah pointing out statistics of abandoned baby cases in Sarawak during a press conference in Kuching. - ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

KUCHING: Sarawak is stepping up efforts to prevent teen pregnancies following a baby dumping case involving an underaged girl.

State Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said she was concerned by the latest case of a 14-year-old girl abandoning her newborn daughter last week.

The infant was discovered by residents at Bandar Baru Semariang here on Nov 29 and sent to the Sarawak General Hospital.

The teenager and an 18-year-old boy have since been arrested in connection with the case.

"We want to reduce teenage pregnancies because we look at the teen mother as someone who is still a child herself, and what will happen to babies born in these cases," Fatimah told a press conference here on Monday (Dec 4).

She said this was the fourth baby dumping case reported in the state this year. There were six reported cases last year and 10 in 2021.

She also said as of October this year, Sarawak recorded 1,760 teen pregnancies while the whole of last year were 1,536 cases.

To address this, Fatimah said more awareness and preventive programmes would be carried out in schools and communities, including sexual education awareness and advocacy programme (KAPS) and social development dialogue.

"Our target groups for KAPS include students, parent-teacher associations and community leaders.

"We also hold this programme in the community to reach out to the school dropouts," she added.

Fatimah said her ministry also reached out to pregnant girls through its one-stop teenage pregnancy centre to provide help and support.

In addition, she said the Welfare Department's Taman Sri Puteri facility here provided a safe place for pregnant girls to be cared for until they give birth.

"I hope parents and carers of these young girls will contact the Welfare Department, Sarawak Women and Family Department or non-governmental organisations for assistance and guidance," she added.

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