HEALTH TEENAGE PREGNANCY
Hellen Nasanga is 17 –years-old and is expecting to give birth to her first child by the end of August this year.
Nasanga got pregnant in Primary Six. Nasanga’s mother always told her to go to school and study hard but never pointed out to her the dangers of teenage pregnancy, and how to protect herself from it.
Nasanga says her parents never wanted to discuss matters to do with sex.
She partly blames the pregnancy on her parents because issues of sex at home were referred to as obscene.
Nasanga shared her experience at a breakfast meeting recently in Kampala organized by Center for Health and Human Rights Development Initiatives (CEHURDI)
Dr. Michael Bukenya chair for the parliamentary Health committee is moving a motion for a resolution in Parliament urging government to establish and implement policies and laws to curb teenage pregnancy in the country.
The motion acknowledges that absence of a robust streamlined government strategy to establish and implement national policies, strategies, and programmes on reproductive health and sex education to eradicate teenage pregnancies, have contributed to the challenge of teenage pregnancies.
“I call upon government line ministries to take urgent action in finalizing the necessary laws and policies on sexual reproductive health, and to see that teenage pregnancies are curbed,” Bukenya said.
Some of the legislations mentioned in Bukenya’s motion are the national school health policy, the national policy on sexual education and reproductive health and rights, and the national adolescent health policy, among other legislations.
Josh Mayanja, the executive director of Teenage Mothers and child support foundation said there are many cases of teenage pregnancy in the country, especially in rural areas than in urban centers because people do not know where the children’s rights should stop.
He said some parents think that children’s rights mean a child doing anything at any time without being regulated.
“Children’s rights and freedoms do not mean allowing your children do whatever they want at any time, stand with whoever they want, no let government sensitise people about children’s rights and protection, may be then the teenage pregnancies can be stopped” Mayanja said.
CEHURDI recently carried out a survey in the east and Gulu region and found out that many young girls who are supposed to be in school, are pregnant and those who were not pregnant were nursing young children.
Ann Kukundakwe the programmes officer at CEHURDI said when they asked parents why many of their girl children were pregnant, they said they are always out looking for money to pay school fees for their children and its government to protect their children while they are away from home.
The statistics of the Ministry of Health on teenage pregnancies rose from 24% in 2011 to 25% in 2016 among girls aged between 15 to18.
Kukundakwe said many teenage mothers rarely go for antenatal care and as a result end up dying due to complications of teenage pregnancies or even getting fistula.
She called upon every stakeholder to combine efforts to end teenage pregnancies in Uganda.
“Let it be every one’s responsibility to sensitise youths and teenagers on teenage pregnancies and their dangers, let them use contraceptives at least to help end teenage pregnancies,” Kukundakwe said.