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Doctors oppose contraceptives for 10-year-old girls

By NANCY SIAME
THE Zambia Medical Association (ZMA) has condemned the administering of family planning contraceptives on girls as young as 10 years old at various health centres in Livingstone.
ZMA president Aaron Mujajati said in an interview yesterday that family planning contraceptives are not age-appropriate for children as young as 10 years old and this must be condemned and discouraged.
Dr Mujajati said contraceptives can have fertility side-effects on children in future because most of them are hormonal.
“Administering contraceptives, especially pills, on children as young as10 years is not age-appropriate and we strongly condemn it,” he said.
Dr Mujajati said contraceptives are not designed for children and his association is concerned about this development.
“Most girls that age would not have even come of age and this is very worrying,” Dr Mujajati said.
He said sex education should not be about teaching children how to have sex and to avoid pregnancy.
“There is more to sex education than that.  The message must be packaged properly and as ZMA, we do not agree and support that practice,” he said.
Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health Emerine Kabanshi said the practice is wrong although parents might have reasons to allow their children to take contraceptives.
She said parents must always have reproductive health talks with their children to prevent early pregnancies.
“Parents must have talks with their children so that early pregnancy is avoided because it is the major cause of maternal deaths,” Mrs Kabanshi said.
And Zambia National Traditional Counsellors Association executive director Iress Phiri said the administering of family planning contraceptives on juveniles is  taboo and tradition does not allow it.
She said the contraceptives are only meant for adults who are of child-bearing age.
“Those children are too young.  It is not good to encourage girls to engage in sexual activities because giving them those contraceptives is encouraging them to misbehave,” she said.
Mrs Phiri said this is a serious issue which needs to be addressed before it gets out of hand.
Livingstone district medical office acting HIV and AIDS coordinator Habben Kolala said health institutions in the city are attending to girls as young as 10 years seeking family planning services.
“In the last quarter, health centres in the district recorded an increase in the number of girls aged between 10 and 15 years old seeking family planning services. Some of the girls actually request for the injection contraceptives,” he said.




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