Nairobi leads in teen pregnancies with 452 cases


Nairobi leads in teen pregnancies with 452 cases. [File, Standard]

Nairobi county has the highest teenage pregnancies with some 452 cases reported.

A report by the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) shows that Nairobi is followed by Kakamega with 328 teenage pregnancies and Bungoma 294.

Nakuru county has 283 cases while Kiambu has 267 and Kilifi county 224 cases.

The details emerged Thursday when KHRC flagged 10 counties with the highest per capita contribution to teenage pregnancies in the country.

They include Samburu county at 50.1 per cent, West Pokot  (36.3 per cent), Marsabit (29.4 per cent), Migori (23 per cent), Kajiado (21.8 per cent), Baringo (20.3 per cent), Siaya (20.9 per cent), Taita Taveta (18 per cent), Trans Nzoia (17.8 per cent) and Isiolo (16.7 per cent).

The commission faulted the governors of the respective counties for failing to put in place measures to address teenage pregnancies.

This comes as the world celebrates International Women’s Day on Friday with the theme; "Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress."

KHRC also faulted Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha and governors for not making tangible and progressive steps to address teenage pregnancies.

According to KHRC, which relied on data from Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS) of 2022, Meru county had 206 cases of teenage pregnacies, Kisii 192, Machakos 178 while Narok 176 cases.

KDHS noted that some of the causes of teenage pregnancies include poverty, sexual gender-based violence (SGBV), low levels of education, harmful cultural practices and the closure of schools in 2020 due to Covid-19 pandemic.

A report by the National Syndemic Disease Control Council in 2023 revealed that 696 adolescent girls are impregnated daily.

“These numbers are as a result of among others lack of access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and education,” said KHRC programme advisor Robert Waweru.

“Health is a shared function between national and county governments and both share the blame for this crisis. The Constitution tasks counties to promote primary and public healthcare services to mitigate these unintended pregnancies,” he added.

KHRC said the national government through the Ministry of Health is responsible for developing guidelines and policies for provision of healthcare, including sexual and reproductive health and blamed it for pulling out of the Eastern and Southern African (ESA) Ministerial Commitment to comprehensive sexual education in May 2023.

“This has potential to suppress or escalate the crisis at hand. The withdrawal signals the lack of commitment by the government to protect our girls from early and intended pregnancies and enforce laws to stop this scourge," said KHRC deputy Executive Director Davis Malombe.

The commission also took issue with Bungoma county Governor Kenneth Lusaka, who in January said teenage mothers should be banned from going back to school.

KHRC said the remarks were reckless and undermine girls' right to education and amount to victimisation.

“Ironically, Bungoma county is one of the highest contributors to teenage pregnancy with a prevalence rate of 19 per cent at the county level compared to the national average of 15 per cent," said KHRC programme manager Annette Nerima.

“We call upon Governor Lusaka to retract his statement and commit to facilitating school girls education, the Council of Governors should interrogate the crisis as a matter of urgency and offer a collective voice on policy issues affecting the prevention and management of teenage pregnancies,” said Nerima.

KHRC also called upon parents to promote the well-being and welfare of their children in line with Children’s Act and the Constitution.