KOTA SAMARAHAN: The state is holding on to a record that it can do away with — its teenage pregnancy rate is the highest in the country.

It is not for want of efforts but what is badly needed is community involvement, said Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

The numbers, according to Abdul Karim, have been on the decline since 2015, but not at a rate enough to get Sarawak off the ‘top spot’.

“A comprehensive community involvement is what the state needs to effectively address the problem.

“Everyone must support all awareness, advocacy and prevention programmes which have been planned by the state government and other related bodies,” Abdul Karim said at the launch of a sex education programme at SMK Hajah Laila Taib in Asajaya here yesterday.

He added that the state government welcomed the cooperation and support of private agencies as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to help drastically reduce the number of teenage pregnancy cases in Sarawak.

Abdul Karim, who is also Youth and Sports Minister, said Kota Samarahan recorded 105 cases of teenage pregnancy last year, a decrease of 18 cases (or 14 percent) compared to 123 cases in 2017.

“Meanwhile, as of March this year, 28 cases have been reported in Kota Samarahan.

“Teenage pregnancy in Sarawak is still a worrying problem as it accounts for about 6.4 percent to 9.9 percent of total registered pregnancies, which is way higher than the national index of 2.4 percent to 4.1 percent,” stressed the Asajaya assemblyman.

Abdul Karim (seated third left) at a photo call with teachers and students of SMK Hajah Laila Taib in Asajaya, Kota Samarahan.

He also welcomed youth events aimed at helping the government achieve its key performance index (KPI) of reducing teenage pregnancy by 10 percent annually.

According to Abdul Karim, last year, five divisions in Sarawak achieved the target, namely Betong (a decrease of 31 percent); Sibu (20.4 percent); Serian (15.1 percent); Kota Samarahan (14 percent); and Sri Aman (10 percent).

Other divisions that also showed a decrease in cases were Miri (6.9 percent); Sarikei (5 percent); and Limbang (2.3 percent).

Meanwhile, Kuching has shown an increase of 184 cases compared to 2017, followed by Mukah (18 percent); Bintulu (2.2 percent); and Kapit (1.9 percent).