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Health CS calls for action on teen pregnancies and HIV infections

 Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe at Wambugu Farm in Nyeri during the sensitisation exercise for health workers and national government administrators. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

At least 720 teenage pregnancies have been reported in Nyeri County between January and May this year. 

This is according to data released during a sensitisation exercise for over 3,000 residents comprising of community health volunteers, youth, and national government administrators. 

National AIDS Control Council CEO Dr Ruth Laibon-Masha said focus is on eliminating the triple threat of teenage pregnancy, HIV and Aids and Gender-Based Violence.

“We are looking for champions, like community health volunteers, to help us address the three issues, which are interlinked and affect our teens,” she said.

The event was attended by among others Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, Health PS Susan Mochache, Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu and County Health CEC Robert Thuo.

Kagwe termed it unacceptable that Kenya had the third-highest teen pregnancy rate in the world, with approximately 80 births per 1,000 births.

“Rwanda has teen pregnancy rates of 26.8 per 1,000 births from adolescent mothers in 2019, Kenya had three times more cases with 78 per 1,000 births occurring among girls under the age of 19 in the same year. What lessons can we learn from our neighbours to stem this situation?” he posed.

He observed that in 2021, an estimated 5,288 Aids-related deaths occurred among children and young people below 24 years.

“HIV treatment is equally costly. We require about Sh25.4 billion every year to procurecommodities to manage this disease,” he said.

There are an estimated 20,233 people with HIV, in Nyeri County of whom 1,435 are adolescents aged 10-19.

During the meeting, data revealed that health facilities recorded a total of 109,110 adolescents who presented at the antenatal clinics.

Kagwe noted that data shows a correlation between teenage pregnancies, gender-based violence, and new HIV infections.

On her part, the PS said teenage pregnancy exposes girls and their children to major health risks including the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

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