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Kabale District Records Over 1,300 Teenage Pregnancies Each Year

Kabale District | THE BLACK EXAMINER | Dr. Gilbert Arinaitwe Mateeka, the Health Officer of Kabale District, has disclosed that the district witnesses an annual tally of over 1,300 cases of teenage pregnancies. This revelation came to light during a stakeholders’ dialogue organized by the Local Sustainable Communities Organization (LOSCO) at the White Horse Inn in Kabale. The dialogue aimed to address issues concerning Sexual Reproductive Health within the district.

Dr. Gilbert Mateeka presented a report showing that in 2020, Kabale District recorded 1,346 teenage pregnancies, followed by 1,479 cases in 2021 and 1,478 cases in 2022. He noted that the actual number could be higher due to unreported cases where victims do not seek professional medical assistance.

The District Health Officer explained that these teenage pregnancies are typically unintended and ill-prepared for, leading to adverse physical and psychological consequences for the victims. These consequences encompass pregnancy complications, delivery complications, as well as an increased risk of abortion.

Furthermore, Dr. Mateeka highlighted that a significant portion of these young victims ends up discontinuing their education, thereby dashing their dreams and future prospects.

Dr. Alfred Besigensi, the Senior Health Educator of Kabale District, and Florence Tumuheirwe, the Executive Director of Kigezi Women in Development (KWID), attributed the problem to insufficient sexual education. They argued that teenagers engage in early sexual activity due to a lack of awareness about the associated consequences and preventive measures.

Ronald Bakak, the Deputy Resident Commissioner of Kabale, pointed out that Uganda still grapples with unethical law enforcement officers, particularly within the police force, who occasionally collude with parents to mediate defilement cases. This results in some cases never reaching the courts, prompting his office to pledge strict action against such police officers to safeguard the welfare of girls in Kabale.

Albert Taremwa, the Director of Local Sustainable Communities Organization (LOSCO), stated that the dialogue, in partnership with the Center for Health, Human Rights, and Development (CEHURD), aimed to raise awareness and address maternal mortality while improving access to sexual reproductive health and rights in Kabale District.

The most recent Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) report revealed a national teenage pregnancy rate of 25%, signifying that one in four Ugandan women becomes a mother by the age of 18.

Dr. Charles Olaro, the Director for Curative Services at the Ministry of Health, disclosed that the government plans to permit girls as young as 15 to access contraceptive services. This policy, aimed at reducing early pregnancies, is primarily intended for “out-of-school” teenagers and young adults. However, the policy is subject to approval by the Cabinet and Parliament, and there are concerns from Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa and Amuru District Woman MP Lucy Akello that it could legitimize early sexual activity among teenagers.

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