The rate at which teenage girls in Uasin Gishu county are getting pregnant is worrying.
The pregnancy rate currently stands at 22 percent for girls aged between 15 to 19 years, translating to one in every five girls within the age bracket being pregnant.
This is higher than the national rate which stands at 14.7 percent.
A Reproductive Health Officer at the department of Health in the county, Caroline Chemoiywo said there was need to scale up family planning and reproductive health services to be able to curb the rising teenage pregnancies.
“We are almost the second county in the country with the highest rate of teenage pregnancies, which is worrying,” she said on Tuesday during an inter-ministerial policy steering committee meeting on population and the Big 4 agenda that was organised by the National Council for Population and Development (NCPD).
She said the department of health had started youth friendly centres in health facilities to empower the youth with knowledge on sexual reproduction and the dangers associated with premarital sex and teenage pregnancy.
Chemoiywo said there was need to involve men in reproductive health issues in the county considering that they were major decision makers in the family.
“Because of the cultural set up, parents hardly discuss sex with their children, matters of sexuality are swept under the carpet leaving the children to discover on their own and in the process get pregnant,” she said.
During the meeting it also emerged that a large percentage of the teens getting pregnant were school going girls.
‘’For a few years now, we have had a worrying number of girls sitting their national examinations in hospital after
conceiving, one of the gaps causing the increased number of girls getting pregnant we realised is that parental engagement is lacking,” said Simon Kemei, an official from the ministry of education.
“Most parents have abdicated their responsibilities of bringing up their children, during the holidays, they send their children away to stay with relatives even for a whole month, creating opportunities for the girls to be preyed upon,” he added.
According to the 2014 demographic and health survey, 5.9 percent girls in Uasin Gishu between the ages of 15-19 are pregnant with their first child and 16.4 percent have ever given birth compared to 3.4 percent and 14.7 percent respectively, at the national level.
There are fears that the early pregnancies could be the reason cases of post abortion care in the county have increased sharply between July last year and May this year.
Records available indicate that 28 girls aged between 10 and 19 years sought post abortion care in public health
facilities in the county between July and September last year, between January and May this year, eight girls within the age bracket have sought the services.
By Kiptanui Cherono