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Kabale records over 1300 teenage pregnancies annually

Kabale , Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Kabale District Health Officer, Dr. Gilbert Arinaitwe Mateeka, has revealed that over 1300 cases of teenage pregnancies are recorded in the district every year. He made this report during a stakeholder dialogue organized by the Local Sustainable Communities Organization (LOSCO) at White Horse Inn in Kabale. The purpose of the event was to discuss sexual reproductive health issues in the district.

Dr. Gilbert Mateeka’s report indicated that Kabale District registered 1,346 teenage pregnancies in 2020, 1,479 cases in 2021, and 1,478 cases in 2022. He also mentioned a significant number of undocumented cases not included in the report, as the victims never seek professional medical assistance. The D.H.O. explained that teenage pregnancies are usually unwanted and unprepared for, resulting in both health and psychological effects on the lives of the victims. These effects include complications during pregnancy and at the time of delivery, with some teens resorting to abortion and the associated risks.

Furthermore, the majority of the victims end up dropping out of school, thus bringing their education and life dreams to an abrupt end. The Kabale District Senior Health Educator, Dr. Alfred Besigensi, and the Executive Director of Kigezi Women in Development (KWID), Florence Tumuheirwe attributed the problem to insufficient sex education. They argued that teenagers engage in sex at an early age because they do not fully understand the consequences involved and how to avoid them.

The Kabale Deputy Resident Commissioner, Ronald Bakak, noted that Uganda was still struggling with unethical law enforcement officers, especially the Police, who sometimes collude with parents to negotiate with suspects of defilement cases. Mr. Bakaki said that, in the end, some cases are never taken to the courts of law, adding that his office would take strong measures against such Police Officers to protect the girl child in Kabale.

Albert Taremwa, the Director of the Local Sustainable Communities Organization (LOSCO), stated that the dialogue, organized in partnership with the Center for Health, Human Rights, and Development (CEHURD), aimed to raise awareness to mitigate maternal mortality and improve and promote access to sexual reproductive health and rights in the Kabale district.

The latest Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) report states that the national teenage pregnancy rate is at 25%, further indicating that one out of four Ugandan women has given birth by the age of 18. Dr. Charles Olaro, the Director for Curative Services at the Health Ministry, recently revealed that the government is soon going to allow girls as young as 15 years to access contraceptive services, a policy he argues will reduce early pregnancies.

Dr. Olaro noted that priority will be given to “out-of-school” teenagers and young adults. This policy will be subject to Cabinet and Parliament’s approval, but the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Thomas Tayebwa, has already expressed discontent with the idea. While chairing plenary on Tuesday, Tayebwa asked the government not to approve the policy that is reportedly still at the ministerial level. Tayebwa’s statements were in agreement with Amuru District Woman MP Lucy Akello, who argued that the policy would legitimize fornication in teenagers.

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