Venezuela: Making the difference in the life of a teenager mother
Jaigreimar gets ready for a busy day. As she does every morning, this 36-year-old mother of five goes to the Health Center at Los Medanos to provide awareness session on Sexual and Reproductive Health.
Première Urgence Internationale nurse performing Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) screening tests prior to the prenatal consultation in Los Medanos Health Center. – © Première Urgence Internationale
Jaigreimar is a community leader of the Municipal Council and works within a program called “Hope for a new reborn”, dedicated to families previously living in the Coro’s dumping area, and now housed in a nearby urbanization named “Los Medanos”.
The new neighbourhood has been created in 2008 and hosts 4,116 people, while 470 people are still living in the dumping area 3 km ahead.
Jaigreimar usually pays specific attention when receiving teenagers at the centre: “I think adolescents are those who benefited the most from this program. Teenagers are usually those without access to economic means, and in most cases, their parents are unfortunately marginalizing them when getting pregnant.
They do not know what to do, how to deal with a pregnancy, and most of them are getting anxious and at risk of depression.”
“Now my family is my boyfriend”
Maryangelis is a 15-year-old child. She’s one of the patients benefiting from the health services provided by Première Urgence Internationale in Los Medanos. “I feel like doctors and nurses have listened to me. I was able to do my first ultrasound visit during the fourth month of pregnancy. My boyfriend and I did not have the means to buy drugs, consumables and services. Thanks to Première Urgence Internationale, my daughter Kreimar, was born without any complication, a little baby of 44 cm and 2,720 kg. Now my family is my boyfriend, a 21-year-old man. He works as an informal worker loading and unloading boxes in Coro city centre.”
Maryangelis and her baby – © Première Urgence Internationale
Maryangelis and her boyfriend have now their own household. “We live with what he can earn. He could not come with me to the first antenatal care visit as he was busy with his job. My mother disagreed with my willingness to keep the child, thus I had to leave my family’s house. My family was composed of two other siblings from the side of my mother, eight from the side of my father. Now I am living only with my boyfriend and my daughter, without any family support. I would like to restart studying and getting my bachelor. This is why I have decided to use an implant provided by the project, because I do not want to get pregnant another time, at least for now.”
“Première Urgence Internationale is holistically supporting adolescents, including their mental wellbeing, most of the times ignored”, notes Jaigreimar. “Before these services in Los Medanos
ambulatory, pregnant women were supposed to go to the local hospital, the nearest public health center, where, nevertheless, a specialist was not always available as well as medical supplies.”
Health services are crucial to prevent adolescent pregnancy
Los Medanos is a suburb of Falcon State’s capital Coro. Falcon is one of the eight prioritized areas by the Venezuela Humanitarian Response Plan, despite being the location of the biggest oil refinery of the country as well as a tourist destination.
Coro’s dumping area settlements – © Première Urgence Internationale
Première Urgence Internationale first assessment in Falcon dated back in June 2022. In this occasion, the team of the humanitarian organization visited the dumping area nearby Los Medanos, verifying the terrible living conditions of those families still living there, especially children under 5 years old and pregnant and lactating women.
The NGO started its operations in Falcon and in Los Medanos in January 2023, as part of an ECHO funded consortium, CONHAVE. The focus of the consortium’s activities is to improve the living conditions of vulnerable people affected by the humanitarian crisis through an integrated health, protection, and water, hygiene and sanitation approach.
Première Urgence Internationale oversees the health component, with a specific focus on contributing to reducing adolescent pregnancy. Teams are ensuring access, quality, coverage, and use of sexual and reproductive health services, by providing gynecological consultations, counselling and provision of family planning methods, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) tests, anthropometric measurement to assess malnutrition conditions of pregnant and lactating women, awareness raising sessions on the right for a sexual and reproductive health.
In addition, Première Urgence Internationale is also performing mental health consultations and psychosocial support, especially relevant for teenage mothers facing an unplanned pregnancy, most of the times in extremely vulnerable socio-economic conditions, if not because of a violence.
The humanitarian economic-led crisis in Venezuela has affected the country for the last 10 years
Venezuela experiences a deterioration of the GDP by 75%; picks of inflations (2022 closed with over 400% inflation rate); a purchase power for common citizens almost null (public officers getting 12 USD per month on average, when the cost of the basic food basket for a family is over 500 USD per month).
Consequently, over 7,3M citizens left the country (mostly young people looking for job opportunities, leaving behind elders and children), and 5,2M people are considered in need of multi-sectorial humanitarian assistance in the country. However, out of the impressive economics indexes highlighting the magnitude of the crisis, there are also other extremely worrisome data. One of them being the rate of 96/1000 adolescent pregnancies against an average of 43/1000 in Latin America. Venezuela positions itself within the average of Africa’s teenage pregnancy rate.
Within the first year of the ECHO-funded CONHAVE consortium, Première Urgence Internationale supported similar activities in four States of Venezuela (Lara, Delta Amacuro, Bolivar, and Falcon), reaching over 13.000 beneficiaries.
In all areas of operations, we are working with community promoters such as Jaigremar, who are playing a fundamental role in contributing to social behavior change through awareness raising sessions; it is only by providing relevant information to community members that humanitarian action can have an impact in the long run by preventing crisis increasing the vulnerability of affected populations.