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MCS Launches Media Campaign To Help Prevent Teenage Pregnancies

Teens under 20 gave birth to 19% of those born in 2000


June 13, 2002
Copyright © 2002 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Adolescents under the age of 20 gave birth to more than 11,000, or 19%, of the nearly 60,000 born in 2000, according to the Puerto Rico Demographic Registry.

Responding to the need to prevent and help continue to reduce the number of pregnancies among local teenagers between the ages of 12 and 19, Medical Card System Inc. (MCS), one of the island’s leading health insurance firms, recently invested more than $250,000 on a public service campaign.

Manten control siempre (Always stay in control) is the slogan of the campaign Aguántate (Save yourself), which will play during movie previews, on the radio, and on cable television.

"The campaign was born from the genuine commitment that Medical Card System has to improve the health and well-being of families and future generations in Puerto Rico," said company President Carlos Muñoz. "We hope to show adolescents that they can control their sexual desires and avoid the responsibilities of parenthood at such a young age," Muñoz added.

The campaign was developed with the support of Arteaga & Arteaga Advertising Inc., which used resources from the B-Creative Program. University students in marketing, publicity, and public relations participated in the program, conducting research and interviewing public- and private-school students in the island’s metro area.

The B-Creative group discovered that teenagers engage in sexual activity primarily because of curiosity, low self-esteem, pressure from peers or their partners, or as an act of rebellion against parents. Other motives cited were lack of supervision and spending a lot of time alone at home. The B-Creative group emphasized to the students the importance of using protection when engaging in sexual activity and, while admitting that it isn’t always the easiest choice, promoted abstinence as the best way to avoid pregnancy.

"The interviews also revealed that the adolescents value their right to make their own decisions. That’s why the campaign presents the consequences of both maintaining and not maintaining control. It leaves the decision up to the adolescent," said Juan Arteaga, president of Arteaga & Arteaga.

"According to a study done by the Department of Health of Puerto Rico, the percentage of births among teenagers decreased from 1991 to 2000. However, even though the trend shows the percentage of pregnancies in adolescents decreasing, the complications from young pregnancies are increasing," said Ivonne Vega, MCS quality and education medical director.

Some of the most common complications involved in adolescent pregnancies are low birth weight, increased mortality, sexually transmitted diseases, and post-partum depression.

Madres y bebes saludables (Healthy mothers and babies) is a program that MCS offers to pregnant and post-partum women of all ages, providing them clinical and educational sessions, Vega said, adding that Reform and commercial clients are eligible to participate in the program.

Since the new campaign was launched, more young girls and community-based organizations have called MCS for more information about the program and to help with the promotion of the campaign, Vega told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS.

MCS provides health insurance plans for commercial groups and corporate clients as well as for individuals through MCS-Personal. It was founded in 1983 and has offices in Hato Rey’s BankTrust Plaza.

MCS ranks No. 33 among Puerto Rico’s largest locally owned companies, boasting $141.89 million in revenue in 2000 (CB Book of Lists 2002). It is the island’s fifth largest health insurance company, with $133,653,000 in total written premiums in 2000 and more than 350,000 policyholders.

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