Nyamira County stakeholders have strategised to implement a multi-sectorial action plan to end the alarming rate of teenage pregnancy in the county by 2030.
“The shocking rate of teenage pregnancy in Nyamira and a few other counties in our country is a serious setback in enabling our country to achieve its economic growth projections.
The county adolescent gatekeepers must collaborate closely to implement sustainable action plans which will enable us to end this menace by 2030,” said the Technical Services Director at the National Council for Population Development (NCPD), Peter Nyakwara.
“This crisis slams education/career ambitions, disorients the social status of these young ones, and the perception of them in the community also changes,” Mr Nyakwara added.
The director pointed out that teenagers are a key basic resource in the country, and they must therefore be nurtured rightly, protected, and guided if the country can depend on them to build and prosper the country’s future economy.
He further explained that teenhood is a unique stage of human development and an important time for laying the foundation of good health because adolescents in this stage experience a lot of rapid physical, cognitive, and psychological growth changes in their mind and body, which need guidance and support to enable them to make informed choices as they transit through this delicate stage.
NCPD assistant director Moses Ouma elaborated to gatekeepers that 25.5 per cent of the population in Kenya are adolescents between the ages of 10-19 and Nyamira County contributes to 1.4 per cent of the national adolescent’s share, which is about 27.1 per cent of the county population according to the 2019 census.
“Two out of ten pregnancies reported in Nyamira are adolescent pregnancies, which comprise about 16 per cent, a rate above the national average of 15 per cent. This county’s rate of child marriages between 12-18 years is 4.7 per cent and 6.4 per cent among girls and boys, respectively, and is classified to be among the 25 counties with child marriage rates higher than the national average of 3.1 per cent and 6.1 per cent for boys and girls, respectively,” Mr. Ouma said.
“Though the number of adolescents presenting with pregnancy during their first antenatal clinic (ANC) at county facilities has gradually been reducing since 2019 to date, the rate is very negligible compared to other counties with a similar challenge, which is why stakeholders must be purposeful and work with speed to end this disquieting crisis by 2030,” the Assistant Director noted.
Nyamira County Parents’ Association chair, Dr Charles Moochi, squarely blamed poor parenting as a key contributor to losing the fight against adolescent pregnancy because most parents have abdicated their parenting roles and delegated them to nannies and school teachers who have no attachment or are overwhelmed to handle individual student challenges.
“Parents must be available for their children, adequately provide them with their basic needs, be keen and sensitive to their needs, guide them to choose the correct company of friends and know who their friends are, and teach them the effects of overreliance on electronic media and social media content to influence them to make informed choices during this complex stage of adolescence,” Moochi stated.
The County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Health, Dr Timothy Ombati, outlined that the ultimate cause of adolescent pregnancy is unprotected sex.
“It comes with its share of other complications, like the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections and maternal and child deaths because their bodies are not mature enough to hold pregnancy to term successfully,” Ombati said.
“This is further compounded with social and economic challenges like dropping out of school, inability to secure employment, stigma, and perpetuating poverty,” he added.
Nyamira County Commissioner Onesmas Kyatha, who is also the coordinator of the gatekeepers forum tasked with ending Nyamira teenage pregnancy, vowed that he will relentlessly bolster a team spirit in implementing the action plan to end adolescent pregnancy in the region.
“We shall intensify capacity building, focusing more on awareness creation among adolescents and young adults on the correct choices when it comes to sexuality and reproductive health, leverage gatekeeper conventions and platforms for discussions on ways to end teenage pregnancy, and identify intervention programmes that need to be mainstreamed in all sectors and to all ages so that the agenda of ending teenage pregnancy is embraced by all,” Kyatha said.
Nyamira gatekeepers’ forum to strategize on ways of ending teenage pregnancy is cascading from the government’s commitment to ending teenage pregnancy by 2030 during the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25) held in Nairobi in 2019.
By Deborah Bochere