Use sexuality education, reproductive health to end teen pregnancy

What you need to know:

  • The government should prioritise and fully fund SRHR as part of its Covid-19 response plans, recognising the essential and life-saving nature of these services.

Most of the large numbers of teenage pregnancies during the Covid-19 lockdown are unintended, research shows. Even before the crisis, girls and young women faced considerable challenges in accessing essential health information and services.

Amid a pandemic that is straining even the strongest of healthcare systems, there is risk that sexual and reproductive health and rights will be deprioritised, with devastating consequences for girls.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says complications relating to pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for girls aged 15-19. Pregnant girls and young mothers face greater risk in crisis such as the pandemic.

As the government fights to curb the spread of the coronavirus, it is important that we mitigate the gendered fall-out for the pandemic that is affecting, particularly, adolescent girls.

Government and healthcare partners should consider age- responsive positive sexuality education in online and distant learning packages and sensitise and encourage communities to embrace sexual and reproductive health-seeking behaviours.

The government should prioritise and fully fund SRHR as part of its Covid-19 response plans, recognising the essential and life-saving nature of these services. It should embrace new ways of providing sexual and reproductive health information and services, including through social media, tele-health, radio and distance learning. Only then would it be able to flatten the teenage pregnancy curve.

DOLPHINE OKOTH, Siaya