The Murang’a County government has raised the alarm over increased cases of teenage pregnancies and has called for concerted efforts to arrest the situation.
According to a study conducted by the county’s Health department, 34 percent of teenage girls in Murang’a County got pregnant between January and March this year and the health officials fear that the number will skyrocket to 40 percent by the end of the year if nothing is done to arrest the situation.
In a letter addressed to all the bishops in the county and signed by Health CEC Joseph Mbai, the number of teenage pregnancies has been increasing since 2017 from 26 percent to 30 percent in 2018 and 34 percent for the first three months of 2019.
Mr Mbai said last year, 141 teenagers aged between 10-14 years delivered in Murang’a hospitals while 5 percent delivered at homes with Kiharu Sub-County being mostly affected with 43 teenagers giving birth in 2018.
The data also showed that 25 teenagers aged between 10 and 19 aborted.
“According to a data from our health facilities in the county, pregnant girls aged between 10-14 years who visited our facilities were 141 (Kandara, 28, Gatanga, 7, Kangema, 3, Kigumo, 12, Kiharu, 43, Mathioya, 7 and Maragua, 41.
“This is a wakeup call to every one of us to speak about it and enhance our morality with the church being [at the frontline in creating] youth programmes, seminars and workshops targeting the young girls,” the report said.
The data also showed that 15,070 girls aged between 20 and 24 are on family planning and are believed to be pursuing their college and university education while another 4,477 girls aged between 15 and 19 are also on family planning.
Mr Mbai cautioned that if something is not done to save the young girls from teenage pregnancies, dependency rate will be high and the economy of the country will be negatively affected.
The county official told the Nation that 30 percent of the girls are impregnated by their age mates, while 70 percent are by relatives, drug abusers, businessmen and boda boda riders.
The study showed that the teen pregnancies have not only affected girls’ education but has posed a major health risk to them since the pregnancies expose the minors high blood pressure, anaemia, low birth weight for the infants, depression and high mortality and maternal rate among others.
Mr Mbai observed that between the months of January and March 2019, over 100 infants were placed in incubators due to low birth weight.
He said his department has embarked on assisting victims of defilements access justice.
“We have been encouraging the victims to report to the police. In the 27 defilement cases going on, 11 cases have been successfully determined. We have also been going to schools talking to our children on the health complications brought about by teen pregnancies but we feel the church should also join us,” he said.