Lifestyle

Covid-19: Cases Of Unwanted Pregnancy Rises In Kenya

OKEKUNLE SUNDAY, IBADAN

According to Opondo, one of the main drivers of teen pregnancy is ignorance.

We know that in Kenya there is no comprehensive sexuality education

A lot of girls lack information on how to prevent unintended pregnancies. she said.

Now children are at home, they are not studying.

Rich kids, probably they are having online classes but kids in (poor communities), what are they doing? Anindo said.

Our kids are idle so what do you expect at the end of it all? Teenage pregnancies, new HIV infections, unsafe abortion.

For many girls like Linnet, hopes of ever returning to school will be fully dashed once they give birth.

Most of them will not be able to go back to school.

it requires a lot of support, financial support, emotional support. Anindo said.

We may have more teenage pregnancies than COVID cases and it is so sad.

In Nairobi alone almost 5,000 girls fell pregnant, just over 500 of them between the ages of 10 and 14, according to the figures from a data unit within the ministry.

Both President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe have mentioned the rise in teen pregnancies during addresses to the nation.

Implementing comprehensive sexuality education in Kenya is a persistent challenge, drawing fierce pushback from religious institutions and conservative groups.

A 2017 analysis by the Guttmacher Institute found that, while various policies exist to provide sexual education in Kenya, topics are limited and do not include information on contraception.

She said teen pregnancies were likely increasing during the pandemic because girls were idle at home, or “engaging in relationships for survival.

Some children get free lunches or free sanitary towels at schools, which will remain closed until at least 2021.

Being home also places an added burden on parents who may have lost their jobs.

“So the young girls will turn to men who will be providing them with pocket money, money for pads,” Opondo said.

It noted that “messages conveyed to students were reportedly fear-inducing and judgemental or focused on abstinence, emphasising that sex is dangerous and immoral for young people.”

Meanwhile, the topic is taboo at home.

Let us not lie to ourselves, our kids are having sex,” said Ritah Anindo, 22, a youth advocate for the NGO Reproductive Health Network Kenya.

Teenage motherhood is a catastrophic, disempowering outcome in the life of a girl. More often than not it spells doom to the teenager’s attainment of life’s full potential,” Kagwe said last month.

Evelyne Opondo, senior Africa regional director at the Centre for Reproductive Rights, said evidence of an uptick in pregnancies directly linked to the pandemic was still “anecdotal”.

However she believed the numbers are merely “the tip of the iceberg” as most girls do not seek proper ante-natal care.

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