Four out of every 10 females attending pre-natal clinics in Meru County are girls below 19 years, a new report has revealed, leaving health and education officials in the region worried.
The report collected in sampled schools and 23 clinics across 12 sub-counties between January 2018 and May 2019 revealed that 43 percent of those visiting clinics were teenagers.
The county also recorded 27 percent teenage mothers giving birth in local hospitals, against a national average of 18 percent, raising the alarm among county officials.
Speaking during the tabling of the report at Three Steers Hotel, Jhpiego Senior Technical Officer Michael Mwiti said Igembe North Sub-County is leading with teenagers accounting for 59 percent of the recorded pregnancies.
It was followed by Tigania East at 56 percent, Igembe Central at 55 percent, and Tigania West at 48 percent.
Imenti North and Buuri recorded the lowest number of teenage pregnancies.
The research was conducted by the Meru County Health department supported by a German NGO, Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW) and Jhpiego, which work to ease challenges of reproductive health for youth and women.
The three are implementing a post-pregnancy family planning project in Meru County after an outcry over the high numbers of teenagers getting pregnant, which has left many youth dropping out of school.
A report by Ministry of Education indicated that 6,690 schoolgirls have been impregnated since January 2018 to May 2019.
Out of these, 364 girls left school to get babies in 2018, with majority of them (302) being from mixed day schools.
Mr Mwiti said the study indicated that 32 percent of all women who gave birth in hospitals in Igembe North were teenagers, while Igembe South recorded 29 percent. Igembe Central had 25 percent teenage births while Tigania East registered 23 percent.
“These are worrying figures since they are above the national statistics of 18 percent. The students said there is a need to introduce sex education since they have not learnt about sexuality on schools. Many have expressed interest in going back to school but they say they are being rejected or face discrimination,” he said.
The girls said they wanted to delay getting pregnant by at least 10 years and are eager to learn sex education and be introduced to contraceptives.
“Many are more worried at getting pregnant and sexually transmitted diseases. Many schools have admitted that they are not teaching children sex education and we are afraid they could get information from unreliable sectors,” he said.