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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Teenage Pregnancies on the rise

By Perfect Chivima

Teenage pregnancies in Zimbabwe have reached alarming rates, with statistics showing a significant increase compared to previous years.

Governments, NGOs, and activists are deeply concerned about the implications of this trend on the well-being of young girls and the country’s overall development.

According to a recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO), the rate of teenage pregnancies in Zimbabwe has risen by 15% in the past five years.

 This means that approximately 1 in 4 teenage girls in Zimbabwe will become pregnant before the age of 19.

Despite this trend being particularly prevalent in rural areas, where access to sexual and reproductive health services is limited, it is now equally escalating in urban areas.

The call for teenage pregnancy awareness campaigns in schools has been a major concern since the 15-year-old student at Loreto High School in Kwekwe District, gave birth to a live baby in front of her teachers and classmates.

Morgan Femayi the chairperson of the HIV and AIDS thematic committee in a meeting held at Mkoba hall confirmed that statistics in Zimbabwe are indicating the teenage pregnancy percentage rate at 22.

“One in three girls is married below the age of 18. We have a worrisome record of 70,000 illegal abortions per year in Zimbabwe and an increase in girl child school dropout.

Girls below the age of 19 account for 15 percent of the maternal mortality rate” he said.

One of the key factors contributing to the rise in teenage pregnancies is the lack of comprehensive sex education in schools.

 Many young girls in Zimbabwe are not adequately informed about contraceptive methods and safe sex practices, leaving them vulnerable to unplanned pregnancies.

Focusing on the Midlands, a survey by the Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) on child marriages showed that gold miners trigger child marriages.

ZGC chairperson Margaret Mukahana told the press that teenage girls are easily duped into early childhood pregnancies by gold miners because of a poverty-stricken economy.

“In Midlands Province, Gweru rural district areas such as St Faith and Shamrock are popular gold panning areas. Children as young as 13 years of age are involved in sex work at St Faith shops where there is gold panning” she said.

Edson Ngwaru a health educator in Gweru told this reporter, “Reproduction health services should have zero restrictions to aid in mitigating early pregnancy in our country however it is also a risk to their health as these drugs can harm their bodies if consumed without proper know-how. #TheSun

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