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MOH: Teenage pregnancies chocking hospitals

Twaweza poll shows teenage pregnancies a big issue in the lockdown

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  The Ministry of Health (MOH) is grappling with treating a high number of teenage mothers who develop complications after delivery.

Revealing this to journalists at a press conference on Monday, officials in the ministry revealed that 27% of all mothers who get complications at delivery are teenagers with many lately developing hypertension and others increasingly developing vesicovaginal fistula (VVF), a complication that causes a mother to uncontrollably and continuously leak urine.

According to Dr Richard Mugahi, the Commissioner in charge of Reproductive and Infant Health VVF can only be corrected by surgery, a service that is not found everywhere across the country.  They have now resolved to do repairs on an outreach basis, leaving mothers to stay in this often stigmatizing situation for a long time.

Their latest such outreaches happened in Kitagwenda and Mubende districts where teenage pregnancy rates are high at 31.4% and 29% respectively against the 24% national average.  Mugahi says a lot of mothers who turned up with this complication couldn’t be operated on due to a limited number of specialists who can handle such surgeries.

Commenting about this, Dr Henry Mwebesa the Director General of Health Services said they are revising their strategies to come up with new ways that could help them cut on the numbers of girls getting pregnant having only achieved a one percent reduction in such cases in the last five years. This is despite creating widespread awareness and efforts to keep girls in school.

Mwebesa says the plan is to cut teenage pregnancy rates from the current 24% to 15% in the next five years or else the country will keep trailing as far as attaining maternal health indicators is concerned.

However, this is in the plan, experts worry that many teenage mothers get a repeat pregnancy soon after their first, something that punches holes in the guidance to young mothers while in antenatal. A recent study by Makerere University School of Public Health shows 3 in 10 girls who are in school acknowledged having sex young before clocking 18, the number was much bigger for those out of school at 8 in every 10.

This study involved 4,070 women and of teenage mothers, almost half acknowledged getting a second unwanted pregnancy two years after the first. On her part, Dr Rachel Beyagira, an official in the Adolescent and School Health Division of the Ministry of Health says repeat pregnancies among teenagers are quite common.

Now, for fear of ridicule, Mwebesa says on their tour of Eastern Uganda last week, girls found at health facilities were giving wrong information, assigning themselves an older age than they actually are.



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