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Alarm over high numbers of teen pregnancies in Meru


County forms Young Mothers clubs in sub-county hospitals where teens meet for mentorship

County forms Young Mothers clubs in sub-county hospitals where teens meet for mentorship

Wednesday July 01 2020

About 170 girls aged 14 and below fell pregnant in Meru between January and mid-June this year.

These are among 5,270 teenage pregnancies recorded through the Kenya Health Information System in the county. The data shows that another 5,100 pregnant girls aged between 14 and 19 visited various hospitals in the country.

North Imenti sub-county had the highest number with 80, followed by South Imenti with 31.

According to the hospital data, Igembe South recorded the highest number of teen pregnancies at 979, followed by Igembe Central with 978 and Igembe North, 823 girls.

Others are Imenti South 587, North Imenti 440, Tigania West, 412, Central Imenti, 310, Tigania Central, 256, Buuri East, 230, Tigania East, 143 and Buuri West 112.

Last year, Meru County government in partnership with John Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynaecology and Obstetrics (JHPIEGO), a non-governmental organisation, initiated young mothers’ clubs aimed at addressing the impact of teenage pregnancies.

The initiative aimed at eradicating stigma among teenage mothers, ensuring they resume education and access healthcare.

A report by the Ministry of Education last year, showed that Meru was among counties with high cases of teenage pregnancies.

ATTEMPTED SUICIDE

“We have formed Young Mothers clubs at Mikinduri, Muthara, Kangeta, Nyambene and Mutuati sub-county hospitals where about 100 teenagers meet for mentorship. We realised that many teenagers face rejection from parents, friends and school after they fall pregnant. This has led to some contemplating suicide,” Meru primary healthcare coordinator Doris Muriuki said.

She noted that three cases of attempted suicide, attributed to stigma, were reported in Tigania East last year.

Ms Muriuki said the teenagers have been undergoing mentorship and counselling to enable them go back to school while others are encouraged to acquire skills.

Meru Health executive Meshack Mutuma said the county government was engaging community health volunteers (CHVs) to monitor teen moms and ensure they resume normal life.

Mr Mutuma, however, warned teenagers against engaging in sex while calling for enhanced education among children to curb teenage pregnancies.

The Ministry of Education report indicated that 11,950 primary and secondary schoolgirls fell pregnant countrywide in 2018, with unreported cases said to be higher.