Alarm as 15,000 girls impregnated in Meru County

A section of participants during a meeting led by NSDCC CEO Ruth Laibon-Masha at Kangeta Catholic Parish in Igembe Central in June 2024. [Phares Mutembei, Standard]

At least 15,000 school girls have given birth and dropped out of school in Meru County since January this year according to the National Syndemic Diseases Control Council (NSDCC).

The council’s chief executive officer, Dr Ruth Masha, said girls were from primary and secondary schools.

Local hospitals have been reporting high cases of teenage pregnancies with pregnant minors and adult women competing for space in wards and maternity theatres at Mutuate and Nyambene level four hospitals.

Dr Masha, who spoke yesterday at Kangeta Catholic Parish in Igembe Central, said not only some of the girls were pregnant but had also contracted human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer as a result of premature sex.

Despite the campaign by the council and its partners' efforts to end new HIV infections, adolescent pregnancies and sexual and gender-based violence, Meru is leading other counties in terms of early pregnancies.

In some public hospitals in the county, up to 50 per cent of those seeking maternal care were girls aged between 10 and 19.

“Even though the number of (children) going to maternity wards is reducing, the numbers are alarming. Last year we had 270 girls aged between 10 and 14 years who underwent caesarean delivery,” she said.

She said: “When you go to Nyambene hospital it is difficult to get space in the theatre because it is full of children delivering. That is a big problem we must address.”

“Meru County has the highest population of children aged 10 to 19 years who have given birth. It is also leading in child sexual abuse,” she revealed.

Dr Masha said Igembe Central and Igembe North constituencies were some of the most affected, with 1,700 school girls giving birth since January.