As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, organizations in Kenya are rallying a campaign in the country to end teenage pregnancy in Kenya.
The #GirlsNotMothers, by the White Ribbon Alliance Kenya in partnership with Christian Aid, Centre for Health solutions and MetaKenya aims at raising voices and calling on stakeholders to act to end the high rate of adolescent pregnancies that is denying hundreds of girls from reaching their potential.
The statistics are staggering with the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (2014) indicating that one in every five girls between 15-19 years has begun child bearing with about 13,000 teenage girls dropping out of school every year due to pregnancy.
Narok County has the most cases recording 40.4 Percentage, followed by Homabay with (33.3) percentage, Tana River with (28.2 percent, West Pokot (28.6pc), Tana River (28.2pc) and Nyamira (27.8pc). Nairobi stands at about (17.8pc) KDHS 2014. 1% of women in Kenya develop vaginal fistula at childbirth, a majority of these being adolescent mothers
“Teenage pregnancies not only put adolescents at risk of HIV infection, but also complicate their care and may result in poor treatment outcomes. Through our HIV programs, Centre for Health Solutions continues to work with health care workers to provide accurate information regarding sexual and reproductive health services to adolescents and ensure they understand that they have access to the services.” Said CHS Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Paul Wekesa
According to WHO 2015, Babies born to adolescent mothers face a substantially 50% higher risk of being still born or dying in the first few weeks than those born to older mothers. Nearly all teen pregnancies are unplanned or unwanted with young girls more likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth compared to mature women (UNFPA 2013)
Dr. John Kitui, Country Manager Christian Aid Kenya emphasizes that ‘’Teenage pregnancy robs girls of their potential with almost all teens who get pregnant dropping out of school. It is also a major cause of death or disability to thousands of young girls. Adolescent pregnancy reinforces the vicious cycle of poverty and ill health’’.
With 24% of Kenya’s population under the age of 19, fighting teenage pregnancy is one sure way of fighting poverty since staying in school longer ensures that teenagers acquire productive skills that would enable them contribute to the economic development of the country. Keeping girls in school is one of the effective strategies to END TEENAGE PREGNANCY
Key drivers of teenage pregnancy in Kenya include; early child marriage, early sex debut, school dropout, increase in Vulnerable and orphaned children, poverty, unemployment, child abuse, poor law enforcement, poor performance in maternal health indicators. These drivers must be tackled.
“This IWD 2018, we are calling on everyone, everywhere to play their role in ending adolescent pregnancy. Let us tackle this together, let our girls survive, thrive and reach their full potential. They are Girls, NOT Mothers.’’ Says Angela Nguku, the WRA Kenya Executive Director.