Five ways we can tackle teenage pregnancies

Five ways we can tackle teenage pregnancies

Five ways we can tackle teenage


Despite the various government measures put in place to reduce teenage pregnancy, the number of cases remains high, leading many to wonder if the country is losing the battle.


For example, the number of adolescent pregnancies increased by 23% from 19,701 in 2020 to 23,000 in 2021.


Experts have weighed in on how the country can effectively address the issue, which continues to force many children out of school while also putting enormous economic pressure on young parents and posing a slew of health risks.


Here are five things you can do to help reduce unintended pregnancy.


1. Parents adolescent communication

Parents or guardians must actively participate in teaching their children about sexual reproduction health (SRH). Parents devote a significant amount of time to their children.


Parents, according to Annet Mwizerwa, a former Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (ASRHR) officer at Health Development Initiative, should start talking to their children at a young age.


"They need to start having conversations with their children about this topic as early as possible to help them understand changes in their lives as they grow," she said.


Mwizerwa, who is currently pursuing a master's degree in gender and sexual reproductive health at the University of Global Health Equity (UGHE), added that this would aid in closing the information gap among teenagers.


2. Increasing access to contraceptives

Pregnancy prevention methods include implants and condoms, among other contraceptives.


However, teenagers' access to some of these contraceptives is restricted by law, and others are prohibitively expensive. For sexually active teenagers, this is a challenge.


According to Mwizerwa, there is a need to assist teenagers under the age of 18 in accessing such services without parental consent.


"Because of cultural norms, it is difficult for them to be open and ask their parents for such services, and as a result, they choose to engage in unprotected sex, which leads to unwanted pregnancy among other risks," she explained.


She went on to say that parents, policymakers, and elders all need to change their attitudes toward this issue.


3. Raising awareness about defilement

Children are unable to consent to sex, so even when it is not technically forced sex, it is child defilement, and despite government measures, some people continue to underestimate this issue.


"People need to be educated about the consequences of defilement in society," she said. "As much as I applaud this initiative (Isage One Stop Centre), I believe that the government should consider developing more youth-friendly pathways to report GBV for the sake of adolescents and young people," she added.


4. Leveraging technology

Teenagers are exposed to and engaged in social media, which continues to be their primary source of information. They can thus use the social platforms at their disposal to gain access to SRH-related information.


Mwizerwa believes that the media has a significant impact on people's lives and thus recommends it for SRH.


She goes on to say that teenagers are more open to using technology and that it can be a better way for them to educate themselves.


5. Sex education

Ibrahim Nkurunziza, in charge of wellness at Groupe Scolaire Nyarupfubire in Nyagatare district, believes that teaching about unwanted pregnancies in schools is one of the best ways to reduce them.


"Most teenagers are still in school, and this is one of the places where people need to put in more effort to educate them about SRH," he said.


He also stressed the importance of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) in schools.


He agrees with Mwizerwa, who stated that even though CSE was implemented in schools, it is still taboo to discuss sexual health in some schools due to cultural norms.


This, he adds, leaves the children in the dark and leads them to believe any information that could lead to an unwanted pregnancy.


Mwizera also suggests conducting periodic national studies on this topic.


"Yes, we can continue to design different policies and solutions," she said, "but if they are not or are only partially evidence-based, contextualised, and adolescent-centered, our efforts may be in vain."


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