Teen pregnancies spike fears

By ZBC Reporter
Gender experts are pushing for enhanced access to sexual reproductive health, fearing a recurrence of alarming statistics of teenage pregnancies as the nation battles the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Government early this year reported that at least 5 000 girls fell pregnant at the height of the pandemic last year, while a further 1800 were pushed into early marriages during the same period.
Experts fear a repeat of these alarming statistics unless mechanisms are put in place to enhance access to key services that will protect the girl child.
“We need to take note of the lessons learnt from the last time. As policy makers we need to remind the people of the r3ality of this pandemic and look at some things that we need to change and prioritise,” said Muwanigwa.
On the back of the reactivated lockdown in the country, prioritising and improving access to sexual reproductive health can be another measure to help reduce the burden experienced during the last period.
“We saw during the last period that access to sexual reproductive health was a bit challenging. So I think this time authorities have to look at creating centers that will help young girls access information and services on sexual reproductive health. The fears are genuine and that is why we need to come up with concrete measures that will prevent a repeat of the last time.”
Already, the country is rated among heavily burdened countries in sub-Saharan Africa in terms of teenage pregnancy.
“The girls need to be preoccupied. Again there is no excuse for girls to be abused. This is the time we need our law enforcement agents to be very strict and to make sure that perpetrators are not allowed to go free.”
On the back of emerging data indicating a significant increase in teenage pregnancy during lockdowns, calls have been made for discussions to be centred on preventing rather than reacting to the scourge that robs young girls of their future.