Increasing teenage pregnancy rates in Kunene worrisome
WINDHOEK, 10 AUG (NAMPA) – The increasing prevalence of teenage pregnancies remains a concern in Kunene despite an increased uptake of family planning services offered at health facilities.
This came to light during a public hearing conducted by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Social Development and Family Affairs at Opuwo on Wednesday.
They lamented the worrisome trend of increasing teenage pregnancies, especially because some of the pregnant teens are minors.
According to the Kunene regional pregnancy profile for 2016/2017 a total of 4 032 women started antenatal care services of which 42 were girls younger than 15, while 758 were girls between the ages of 15 and 19.
Family planning services in Kunene at health institutions include pills, condoms, injections and the intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD).
Regional statics show that the use of pills for contraceptives has decreased from 4 206 in the 2015/2016 period to 3 680 in the 2016/2017 while the injections increased from 12 949 to 13 533 during the same period.
The use of condoms has increased from 1 075 to 5 896 in the same period while the use of the IUCD has escalated to 24 during the recent period from zero.
The IUCD is a mechanical device inserted into the uterine cavity for the purpose of contraception.
According to the findings of the committee the early teenage pregnancies phenomenon is most probably compounded by customary practices such as early marriages.
Godhard Kasuto, who is the deputy chairperson of the committee and also head of the delegation, said according to stakeholders such customary practices are compounded by young girls who are prevented from exercising their sexual and reproductive rights.
Priscilla Kavita of the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum who is also part of the delegation told this agency the problem of teenage pregnancies can also be attributed to the shortage of social workers in most health facilities in Kunene.
One request from stakeholders, according to Kasuto, is that there is an urgent need for proper coordination of service delivery as the health sector remains under pressure to provide health and social services due to lack of sufficient health professionals and facilities.