In 2019, the Philippines saw an alarming teen birth rate that was double the rate observed in the United States. Former President Rodrigo Duterte called it a “national social emergency” and issued an executive order that sought to address the root causes of the crisis. Now, Philippines native and Rutgers-Camden School of Nursing Assistant Professor Jamille Nagtalon-Ramos has been recognized for her research and advocacy around this issue.
Nagtalon-Ramos was selected from a highly competitive pool of applicants to serve on the Young Filipino Leadership Program’s 2022 Immersion Cohort, a network of leaders dedicated to advancing initiatives, programs, and causes that support U.S.-Philippine relations. She and 14 other delegates will embark on a weeklong immersion trip to Manila, Philippines, where they will interact with government officials and leaders in the fields of business, arts and culture and civil society.
The 2019 executive order quoted statistics from the United Nations Population Fund Philippines, saying that only three percent of children born to adolescent mothers are fathered by men of the same age group. That statistic points to both cultural and healthcare concerns.
“Adolescent pregnancy has a deep impact on the adolescent’s life. 97 percent of these teen pregnancies are the result of coercion or unequal power relations between an older male who is outside of the adolescent’s age group,” Nagtalon-Ramos said. “Teen pregnancy also has a tremendous economic impact on the society, as these girls and women may have to drop out of school and disrupt their education. Only 38 percent of teenage mothers complete their high school education by the time they are 22 years old, as most of their focus is on raising their children.”
Nagtalon-Ramos is a third-generation nurse whose research focuses on the Filipino American experience and health disparities in diverse and vulnerable populations. She recently launched a study on the transfer of sexual and reproductive health knowledge and intergenerational communication, and she will focus on the factors contributing to this crisis, such as cultural values, access to contraceptive methods, sexual education, and maternity care.
Marie O’Toole, interim dean of the School of Nursing–Camden, and Donna Nickitas, interim provost at Rutgers University-Camden and former dean of the School of Nursing-Camden, commended Nagtalon-Ramos’s selection as a member of the Young Filipino Leadership Program’s 2022 cohort.
“Jamille Nagtalon-Ramos has proven herself to be a dedicated and powerful change agent,” O’Toole said. “We look forward to seeing how her participation generates new discoveries and innovations within the School of Nursing and beyond. Her deep commitment to her Filipino culture and heritage is reflected through professional stewardship and leadership.”
Nagtalon-Ramos looks forward to engaging key experts and stakeholders in the Philippines and the United States to advance women’s health.
“This program will be the vehicle by which I am able to create a sustainable and impactful project focused on improving Filipino American and Filipino women’s health that will engage community members, healthcare experts, and policy makers,” Nagtalon-Ramos said. “Having a week-long immersion in the Philippines dedicated to learning, connecting, and developing a legacy project will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Creative Design: Douglas Shelton
Photographer: Ron Downes, Jr.