Thyolo District Hospital Coordinator for Youth Friendly Health Services, Steven Dimba expressed worry over the increased cases of teenage pregnancies this year compared to the previous year.
The hospital recorded 3, 617 teenage pregnancies during the same reporting period of January to June, 2020.
Dimba attributed the suspension of outreach clinics, school health days and open days due to Coronavirus as contributing factors to the increase in teenage pregnancies, saying young people are failing to access sexual and reproductive health rights services (SRHRS).
“More young people accessed the SRHRS in 2020 where we had a number of weekend outreach clinics and school health days than in 2021 where we have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. This has resulted into increased teenage pregnancies this year,” Dimba said.
“For example, from January to June 2020, 160,286 young people (representing 62 percent) accessed SRHRS while in 2021 only 130, 260 young people (representing 50 percent) utilized the services,” he added
Dimba said the other contributing factors include closure of Youth Friendly Health Services Delivery Points at the district hospital which was turned into a Covid-19 management centre, decreased demand for SRHRS by young people and inadequate funding for planned activities due to the pandemic.
Executive Director for Thyolo Active Youth Organization (TAYO), Willard Mwambo expressed concern with increased cases of pregnancies among teenage girls noting that, if left unattended, the development could affect the socio-economic development of the district.
“There is need to engage an extra gear in our work programming, by enhancing coordination among organizations working in the district, engaging key informants, meeting the parents as well as the youths themselves,” Mwambo said.
“Local problems need local solutions. As such, government and donors should start funding the local organizations. Current status is that almost all the local district based and community based organizations do not have the financial muscle to sustain their work including girls’ projects,” said Mwambo who is also chairperson for Thyolo civil society network.