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Four west nile districts grappling with high number of teenage pregnancies

Some of the young mothers receiving post-natal services at Ayivuni Health Center Three in Arua.

Arua, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT | Four districts in West Nile region are grappling with the rising cases of teenage pregnancies as families continue battling the effects of the lockdown. Most of the affected girls are school-going children ranging between 14 to 18 years of age living with a single parent or relatives.  

Yumbe district has the highest number of teenage pregnancies registered between March and September with over 7000 cases followed by Zombo with 2186 cases, Pakwach with 1011 cases while Arua comes last with 678 cases. Dr. Alfred Yayi, the Yumbe District Health Officer, says some of the girls have given up on returning to school and are roaming around without any parental control. 

He says the situation has been worsened by poor cultural and religious beliefs in Yumbe that ignore defilement. Samuel Ocaki, the Zombo District Community Development Officer, says although 2186 cases of teenage pregnancies were registered from the data compiled from government health facilities, the numbers could be higher given the fact that many girls have opted to seek antenatal services from private facilities and Traditional Birth Attendants-TBAs. 

In Pakwach, the District Community Development Officer, Patrick Olwor, says many more cases of teenage pregnancies haven’t been captured. He, however, says they made interventions to reduce the escalation of the cases.

In Arua, Richard Obia, the District Community Development Officer, says they managed to register lower numbers compared to other districts because of interventions by government and Non-Governmental Organisation. “Though Arua’s total number is a little lower, a lot more needs to be done to reduce it further,” said Obia. 

Micah Avubieng, the Arua District Police Community Liaison Officer for Greater Arua, says many defilement cases remain unreported as some communities have resulted to our court settlements. He, however, warns parents and relatives of dire consequences if found to have settled defilement cases outside the provisions of the law.

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