Paraguay Investigates Red Cross

Paraguay Attorney General Javier Díaz Verón, announced an investigation into the Paraguayan Red Cross for the organization’s supposed failure to report underage pregnancy, according to La Nación. The organization is accused of concealing underage pregnancies at its Renia Sofia Hospital. Paraguay requires doctors to notify the government about pregnancies of minors due to the high likelihood of child sexual abuse in such cases. The Attorney General’s office believes that the Red Cross has hidden the cases of a nine-year-old girl who gave birth in August of 2016 and a pregnant 11 year-old who has received treatment at a hospital.

The cases came to light following a news conference in which the deputy director of the Renia Sofía Hospital, Dr. Leni Funk, highlighted the high rate of pregnancy among minors in Paraguay. However, the executive director of the hospital, David Velázquez, quickly clarified that the doctor was mistaken and these cases either do not exist or hospitals do not handle such cases in a conversation with Última Hora.

The Reina Sofía Hospital and the Red Cross stated that the most recent case of a 9 year old giving birth in the hospital was in 2015 and that the 11 year old girl is receiving prenatal care, but is not under the supervision of the hospital. The Red Cross denies having violated pregnancy notification laws, but the Attorney General believes doctors may have concealed information. He has not ruled out charges against both the hospital the and individual doctors if they are found to have violated their legal obligations.

A 10-year old girl, whose abortion was denied, brought underage pregnancy in Paraguay to international attention in 2015, following the case of a 10-year old girl who was denied an abortion by the government. Pregnancies among girls aged 10 to 14 have risen 62 percent over the past decade and 20 out of 100 births are among women aged 15 to 19 according to the United Nations Population Fund. Dr. Jorge Sosa, head of the Sexual and Reproductive Health Department of the Paraguayan Ministry of Health, has stated that the key to reducing adolescent pregnancies is preventative actions including sexual education.

Hoy reported that the Red Cross was seeking to highlight the dangers of pregnancies among minors, including increased need for Cesarean sections, premature birth, and medical complications. The hospital was also concerned about the effect of poverty on childhood pregnancy, as poverty level can potentially double the risk of pregnancy at an early age.

It remains to be seen whether the Red Cross actually failed to report cases of pregnancies among minors or if the investigation is based purely on miscommunication, but Paraguay’s problems with adolescent and pre-adolescent pregnancies are evident.