Health Ministry to Refocus Efforts to Combat Devastating Impact of Teenage Pregnancies

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The Ministry of Health has announced its renewed commitment to combating the alarming rise in teenage pregnancies that have plagued the country for the past decade.

In a press briefing held today February 26, 2024, Dr. Andrew Mwebesa, the Director General of Health Services, highlighted the failure of previous campaigns to yield significant results, revealing that teenage pregnancy accounts for 18% of maternal mortality in the country.

According to a recent demographic and health survey conducted by the ministry, Uganda currently has a staggering 24 % prevalence of teenage pregnancies. The survey identifies several factors contributing to this alarming figure, including extreme poverty, early school dropouts, lack of education on contraceptives, and early marriages, particularly in rural areas.

“We are currently focusing on raising awareness about adolescent health and the risks of early pregnancy in schools, rather than distributing contraceptives. Our approach involves guiding and educating children on these topics. To address adolescent health issues, especially teenage pregnancy, we will reactivate all our strategies, including the district committee on adolescent health. It is essential to involve multiple sectors in tackling these issues,” Dr. Mwebesa stated.

Dr. Richard Mugahi, the Commissioner for Adult, Child, and Infant Health at the Ministry of Health, echoed Dr. Mwebesa’s concerns about the devastating consequences of teenage pregnancies. He emphasized that teenage mothers resort to unsafe abortion methods, including using sticks, hangers, and other crude tools, leading to a high incidence of sepsis cases in the country.

Additionally,  Dr. Mugahi revealed that of all the women who die due to pregnancy-related complications in Uganda, a shocking 18 % are teenagers aged 19 and below. These young girls, who should be pursuing education and personal development, find themselves caught in the cycle of early motherhood, jeopardizing their futures and impeding the nation’s progress.

To combat this issue, the Ministry of Health recognizes the need for a coordinated effort involving all relevant stakeholders. By collaborating with other governmental bodies and district committees, the ministry aims to tackle the root causes of teenage pregnancies, improve access to education, and provide comprehensive reproductive health services, including information on contraceptives.

In addition to these efforts, the ministry plans to expand initiatives that focus on raising awareness among adolescents about the importance of making informed decisions regarding sexual and reproductive health. By empowering young people with knowledge, the government hopes to equip them to make responsible choices and avoid the perils of teenage pregnancies.

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