Over 15, 542 teenage girls in Narok County became pregnant in the year 2020 when schools were closed due to Covid-19 pandemic.
The County director of health Dr. Francis Kiio said the shocking figures were derived from the number of girls who visited antenatal clinics in various hospitals across the county throughout the year.
“The number of girls between the age of 10 and 14 who fell pregnant last year was 827, while those between the age of 15 and 19 stood at 14, 715. The number was captured during the first visit to the clinics, hence we are sure that no one was counted twice,” said Dr. Kiio.
The director gave the report Friday in an interdepartmental task force meeting on teenage pregnancy held at a local hotel and attended by Narok County Commissioner Evans Achoki, Narok Governor’s wife Ms. Sarah Tunai and the County Executive Member for Education and youth affairs Cecilia Wepali.
According to the report, 14, 962 teenage girls in the county fell pregnant in 2019 and another 15, 287 in 2018.
However, the director said many more girls who did not visit the hospital facilities and chose to give birth at home were not counted.
According to the data given, Narok South was leading with 3, 943 cases, while Trans Mara West had 3,364 cases reported last year.
Dr. Kiio lamented that the percentage of teenage pregnancy stood at 40 percent, which is more than double the national estimate of 18 percent.
“The factors that contribute to these high percentage is peer pressure, need for money, poverty, FGM and lack of parental guidance,” he said.
On his part, the county Commissioner admitted to having spent a lot of time dealing with teenage related issues since he came to the county almost a year ago.
Achoki attributed the increasing cases to FGM saying that once a girl has undergone the outlawed practice, she feels a woman enough to engage in premature sex.
“We have had meetings with the chiefs to see to it that we eradicate FGM that is heavily contributing to the menace. Now we want to go to the next level to know who impregnated the girls,” he said.
Achoki called for a multi-sectoral approach in dealing with the matter, where all departments and non-governmental organizations will be tasked to ensure all girls remain in school.
“We all have to come on board to stop this ugly thing happening to our girls. If you realize my office is to blame for not doing what it is expected to do, kindly do not keep quiet, speak out so that we can bring the culprits to book,” he said.
The County executive for Education asked the stakeholders to come up with solutions on the increasing number of teenage pregnancies, while observing that the solution was just within.
“We cannot continue crying yet doing nothing about it. This is the time to wake up and start working towards reducing these numbers,” said Wepali.
by Ann Salaton