WE, leaders and representatives of civil society organisations, professional societies, scientific associations, faith-based organisations, government agencies and departments, private for-profit entities, non-governmental, non-profit organisations and citizens of Malaysia are united behind this consensus to reduce unintended adolescent pregnancies in Malaysia.
We are concerned by the reported rising rate of unprotected adolescent sexual activity, of which the health and social impacts include unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions or miscarriages, disrupted education, child marriages, social stigma and further victimisation.
Due to legal, social, and cultural barriers, safe and meaningful access to sexual and reproductive health education and services remain inadequate among adolescents.
The health needs, the developing autonomy and capacity and the psychosocial struggles of adolescents should be centrally placed, and everyone in society has the responsibility of standing in solidarity with our adolescents and supporting their needs.
In developing our child- and adolescent-centred commitments, we have conducted multiple robust discussions over a long period. In these discussions, we have carefully considered the ethical, religious, political, scientific, cultural, and Malaysian contexts.
We have also considered the spirit and wording of the Charter of the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef); Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989); International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (1994);
Constitution of the World Health Organisation (updated 2014) and Universal Health Coverage; Sustainable Development Goals (2015); Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979);
Position Paper on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (Madrid Declaration) (2019), European Society of Contraception and Reproductive Health; and National Strategy Plan in Handling the Causes of Child Marriage,
Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (2020), Malaysia.
We urge all our fellow Malaysians to join us in our commitment to reduce adolescent pregnancies and to uphold adolescents’ rightsto sexual and reproductive health (SRH), and:
1. To implement the widest range of health and social policy solutions to reduce unintended adolescent pregnancies in Malaysia.
2. To empower adolescents to make the best health choices for themselves.
3. To educate the broadest possible section of society with comprehensive, evidence-based SRH education (including on sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancies) that is age and culturally appropriate.
This includes the education of children (like safe touch), adolescents, health professionals, teachers, and parents.
It is an ethical imperative that SRH experts, policymakers and the community work hand-in-hand to deliver SRH education effectively.
4. To provide safe and effective contraception whenever it is needed, within the strict confines of a non-judgemental and confidential environment where the opinion and decision-making capacity of the adolescent is respected, and their health needs are met.
The combination of education and the provision of contraception are most effective in preventing unintended pregnancies in all age groups. This may require amendments to the relevant laws and the way we honour mature minors’ decisions.
5. To acknowledge the barriers of safe access to SRH education and health services. These barriers include the unavailability of services, the lack of information, disempowerment and inadequate training of providers, and other legal and social determinants,
6. To resolve the issue of child marriage in Malaysia, in support of the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry.
7. To implement adolescent sexual and reproductive healthcare policies that are wholly based on scientific evidence and ethical considerations.
Adolescent pregnancy is a huge problem in Malaysia, and we must solve it together, now. We call on all stakeholders to join us in our commitments expressed in this consensus statement in the spirit of partnership, generosity, and ambition.
Together, we place children and adolescents in the centre of all our efforts as they deserve our highest protection and care.
(Organisations) Federation of Reproductive Health Associations, Malaysia; Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Malaysia; Malaysian Paediatrics Association; Malaysian Association of Adolescents Health; Malaysian Council for Children’s Welfare; Malaysian Medical Association; Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Associations Malaysia; Reproductive Rights Advocacy Alliance Malaysia; Sarawak Family Planning Association; Reproductive Health Association, Pahang; Penang Family Health Development Association; Negri Sembilan Family Planning Association; Sabah Family Planning Association; Association of Women Lawyers; National Council of Women’s Organisations, Malaysia; Malaysian AIDS Council; End CSEC Network, Malaysia; Sisters in Islam; PS The Children; PT Foundation; Sawo Centre; Make It Right Movement; Sarawak Women for Women Society; Vanguards4Change; X Ed Malaysia Social Enterprise; (individuals) Prof Datuk Noor Aziah Mohd Awal, Children’s Commissioner, Suhakam; Prof Datuk Dr Ravindran Jegasothy; Datuk Dr Amar Singh-HSS; Dr Milton Lum; Dr John Teo; Dr Khor Swee Kheng; Dr Subatra Jayaraj; Ng Lai Thin; M. Krishnan; Tee Chew Ong; Ong Lay Seong
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