Gender Gender

‘Teen pregnancies now a crisis’

DOREEN NAWA and CHRISTINE CHISHA – Lusaka
UNITED Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia (PPAZ) have described levels of teen pregnancies in the country as a crisis.
Speaking at a match between the two organisations dubbed ‘United in Sport’ played at Portico in Lusaka recently, UNFPA country representative Mary Otieno said topping the list is Luapula, then Eastern Province; followed by other provinces countrywide.
The main aim of the match was to unite in sport for HIV/AIDS prevention, pregnancy and family planning in addressing these reproductive health issues.
Dr Otieno said reproductive health is a developmental issue which has to be tackled in order to see positive results.
“We need to unite and coordinate properly when addressing these issues. All stakeholders starting from the youths themselves to cooperating partners, including the United Nations, religious leaders and parents, must unite to address teen pregnancies,” he said.
And PPAZ executive director Edford Mutuma said the number of girls getting pregnant is alarming and the re-entry policy does not work anymore because of the stigma.
“We need to advocate for the young people who are sexually active to access contraceptives. We need an improved and well-coordinated referral system between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health,” Mr Mutuma said.
He said abstinence has not yielded the intended results hence the need for youths to be given the information to decide what is best for them.
“We have had the ABC [abstinence, being faithful and condomising] and abstinence has not worked.What we need to add now is a D for decision.
“Our youths need to be given information so that they can decide how best to deal with reproductive health issues,” Mr Mutuma said.
He said today’s young people are having sex at an early stage and if they are not empowered, ‘then we are not helping them in any way.”

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