Dr. Gilbert Arinaitwe Mateeka, the Health Officer for Kabale District, has revealed that there are more than 1300 cases of teenage pregnancies reported annually in the district.
This disclosure occurred during a stakeholder dialogue organized by the Local Sustainable Communities Organization (LOSCO) at the White Horse Inn in Kabale, with a focus on Sexual Reproductive Health Issues in the District.
According to Dr. Mateeka’s report, Kabale District recorded 1,346 teenage pregnancies in 2020, 1,479 cases in 2021, and 1,478 cases in 2022. It’s important to note that there are likely numerous unreported cases, as many victims do not seek professional medical assistance.
The District Health Officer stressed that these teenage pregnancies result in unforeseen and unprepared situations, leading to both health and psychological consequences.
Complications during pregnancy, childbirth, abortions, and associated risks are some of the challenges faced by young victims. Additionally, a significant percentage of teenagers end up discontinuing their education, abruptly putting an end to their career and life aspirations.
Dr. Alfred Besigensi, the Senior Health Educator for Kabale District, and Florence Tumuheirwe, the Executive Director of Kigezi Women in Development (KWID), attributed this issue to inadequate sex education. They argued that teenagers engage in early sexual activities due to a lack of understanding of the consequences and methods of prevention.
Ronald Bakak, the Deputy Resident Commissioner of Kabale, expressed concerns about unethical law enforcement officers, particularly within the police force. Some officers are allegedly involved in negotiations with parents regarding defilement cases, resulting in these cases not reaching the courts. Bakak pledged to address such issues to protect the girl child in Kabale.
Albert Taremwa, the Director of LOSCO, mentioned that the dialogue, which was organized in collaboration with the Center for Health, Human Rights, and Development (CEHURD), aimed to raise awareness and reduce maternal mortality while improving access to sexual reproductive health and rights in Kabale District.
According to the latest Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) report, the national teenage pregnancy rate stands at 25%, indicating that one in four Ugandan women gives birth before the age of 18. Dr. Charles Olaro, the director for curative services at the Health Ministry, revealed the potential government policy to allow girls as young as 15 years old access to contraceptive services.