Teenage Pregnancy In Kenya: The Data, Facts And The Fight!
July. 11, 2020
Teenage pregnancies in Kenya have been on the rise in the last couple of months, well, at least since COVID-19 was announced in Kenya and schools remained closed as a way of curbing the spead of the virus, according to reports.
A survey by the Kenya Health Information System shows that about 4,000 girls aged 19 years and below were reported pregnant in Machakos County between January and May, which means 27 girls conceived every day. The numbers in other counties were equally bad.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has since dismissed the report, terming it obnoxious, while other Kenyans took to online platforms to express their shock at the numbers.
Also read: Female Genital Mutilation In Kenya: Major Consequences, Experiences And The Relentless Fight!
While that number should definitely worry every parent and teachers as well, the big question now is what next?
It was officially announced on July 7, 2020, that schools in Kenya will remain closed for the rest of the year! Imagine how worrying this is to parents. Six more months wiuth their teenage daughters at home, and with some not able to afford online learning for their children, this only means that the students are left idle.
With the numbers announced, and cases that go unreported, it is clear that many of these teenage students, both in the rural areas, and marginalized parts of the country as well as the urban areas might not return to school once they are reopened!
A quick trend analysis shows that Nairobi county is leading with 11,795 teenage pregnancies in the period Jan-May 2020.
This is slightly higher than last year’s figures in the same period where there were 11,410 cases reported.
Kakamega county is a close second with 6,686 cases compared to 8,109 cases last year. Machakos county, that has been the focus of the latest public outcry on teen pregnancy ranks number 14 with 3,966 cases registered this year compared to 4,710 cases last year. From all the counties, the total numbers reported for the period January-May 2020 are 151,433 compared to 175,488 for the same period in 2019. See a table summarizing the numbers for each county here.
Concurrently, over 13,000 teenage girls drop out of school annually because of pregnancy. Recent media reports show that 449 girls are failing to sit for their final examinations while others write examinations in maternity wards. This is a red flag on the girls’ education, health and opportunities not to mention a failure on the society as whole. The case of Narok County is an eye-opener with 40% of the teenagers being pregnant compared to Garissa, Wajir and Lamu at 10%. (Kenya Data and Health Survey, 2014)
Global Childhood Report ranks Kenya highest in East African Community in other social protection aspects.
However, this might be a faded glory because of the teenage pregnancy, new HIV/AIDs infections and sexual abuse among others. Kenya Launched Adolescent S3xual and Reproductive Health Policy and Adolescents Youth- Friendly Facilities to bring issues of adolescents and youths’ health and development into the mainstream.
Just a few days ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed that all pregnant schoolgirls be registered to ensure they access free pre and post-natal care, Education Chief Administrative Secretary Zack Kinuthia has revealed.
The Head of State said the directive is contained in a presidential directive issued recently, including an order that the national crime research centre come up with a report on high incidence of child abuse in the country.
The directive also stipulates that the administrators reveal the identities of those behind the pregnancies.
The society is also slowly deviating from the conservative traditional values and attitudes on safe s3x discussion/education.
Men and boys should be engaged as advocates against teenage pregnancy too.
Further, there is an urgent need to address poverty as one of the root causes of teenage pregnancy, sensitize and create awareness on the School Re-entry Policy and engage teenage girls as stakeholders to develop interventions tailored towards their needs and concerns.
It is also sad to note that efforts to address teenage pregnancies and other s3xual and reproductive health matters are resisted by parents, religious leaders, political leaders and other stakeholders despite the mounting evidence that young people are initiating s3x earlier than in the past.
I hope that eventually, everyone will see the need to come together and help fight teenage pregnancies through education, and any other way possible!
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