We must do everything to end teenage pregnancy

Teenage pregnancies are slowly getting out of hand but, worryingly, not much is being done to tackle the problem.

In Igembe North Sub County in Meru, three out of every five females seeking antenatal care are teenagers.

According to Teenage Pregnancy Factsheet, 2019, of all mothers who delivered in the miraa growing zone last year, 59 per cent were aged between 15 and 19 years.

In Kilifi County, about 17,000 teenage pregnancies were reported in the county last year.

The case is not different in Kisumu where hospital records show 493 girls aged between 10 and 14 fell pregnant last year.

According to data from the Ministry of Health’s District Health Information System, a staggering 378,497 pregnant girls aged between 10 and 19 visited health facilities countrywide between July 2016 and June 2017.

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In some cases , the girls are impregnated by wayward fishermen and boda boda riders who rape them or lure them with a few pennies.

In others, they fall pregnant after being molested by those they trust most; relatives, teachers and clergymen.

Clearly, our country’s moral compass has gone askew. Sadly, besides pregnancy, some of the girls end up contracting venereal diseases or the dreaded HIV. In Kilifi, five per cent of teenagers who fell pregnant last year also contracted HIV, according to the county’s Health executive Anisa Omar.

These statistics ought to shake us to the core, but they are yet to elicit much anger. We have let down our children terribly.

The high teenage pregnancy rates are testament of failure by all of us; the Government, parents, teachers, religious groups and media among others. We must all pull up our socks and go back to the drawing board as well.

Our girls need to be educated about the dangers of premarital sex. The long arm of the law should aggressively hunt sex pests and put them where they belong—in jail.

Further, groups usually blamed for sexual exploitation of children, including boda boda riders and fishermen, need to be educated and warned to keep off children.

In addition, we should stop hiding in cocoons of denial and appreciate that defiant teenagers are increasingly having sex with their peers. This should goad parents to discuss the use contraceptives with their children who can’t embrace abstinence.

Whatever the case, an all out war should be declared to save our girls from pregnancies. This is the only way to ensure that their childhood is not destroyed. It is the best way to secure their future.

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