378,397 girls pregnant in year, what can we do?

Primary school pupils are having sex too early, the Ministry of Health has said, Dr Jeanne Patrick has said.

She is a Programme Manager at the ministry’s Family Health division. Some 378,397 adolescent girls aged 10-19 were pregnant between July 2016 and this June.

She said 10-14-year-olds recorded 28,932 cases, while those aged 15-19 listed 349,465 cases.

The majority of those in this group are at their last levels of primary studies, she said.

Patrick’s speech was presented by Kigen Korir, a programme manager at Adolescent Kenya, yesterday at the closing session of the 13th annual meeting for primary school heads.

Due to these early pregnancies, Patrick said girls’ education is compromised. “The ability to secure decent economic opportunities is dented,” she said.

The manager said morbidity and mortality due to pregnancy-related complications and abortion has become rife.

“Other girls were married off at an early age,” she said.

“The economic and social burden on families has been overwhelming.”

Patrick said the majority of girls in this group have attempted or had an abortion.

“Girls below the age of 19 account for 17 per cent of all women who seek care for abortion-related complications,” she said.

Patrick presented the report that revealed 51 per cent of new HIV infections and 13 per cent of Aids-related deaths occur among young people aged between 15-24.

Sexual violence has also been reported and is becoming rampant, she said.

“Six-point-five per cent of girls and 2.7 per cent of boys aged 15-19 have experienced sexual violence,” she said.

She spoke on the topic of Dealing with Adolescent Sexuality to Ensure Academic Achievement.

Patrick said Female Genital Mutilation is still a reality.

“FGM prevalence among girls aged 15-19 years is 11 per cent,” she said.

She recommended delivery of life and health education in schools.

The manager said the new 2-6-6-3 curriculum should strengthen content in sexual health.

“We should ensure schools remain safe havens and free from sexual abuse and violence,” she said.

“Support retention of adolescents in school, including those on ART.”

Patrick said the re-entry of learners who drop out of school due to pregnancy will help fight stigmatisation.

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