Teen pregnancies: Kagwe calls for stiffer penalties
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on Wednesday called for severe punishment of people responsible for teenage pregnancies.
Speaking when he launched a community sensitisation forum aimed at addressing the “Triple Threats” facing adolescents, the CS said that there was a tendency to show leniency on the perpetrators who “continue to roam freely while children as young as ten are burdened with the responsibility of becoming mothers”.
“We cannot continue like this. It has reached a point where those involved have to be dealt with without leniency,” Kagwe added.
The forum in Nyeri county was organised by the National Aids Control Council (NACC), Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior and Co-ordination of National Government, National Council for Population Development and the County Government of Nyeri.
The forum which was attended by among others, Community Health Volunteers and Nyumba Kumi elders, aimed to address the increasing rates of teenage pregnancies, Gender-Based Violence and HIV infections among adolescents through a campaign dubbed, “Komesha Mimba za Utotoni.”
According to NACC statistics, Kenya has the third highest teen pregnancy rate in the world with approximately 80 births per 1,000 births.
The Council has also listed poverty, lack of sexual reproductive health education and sexual abuse as the key drivers of the Triple Threats.
Kagwe noted that there was a correlation between teenage pregnancies, Gender-Based Violence and new HIV infections.
He challenged community gatekeepers to play their role in mentoring adolescents. Kagwe said that most of the teenagers were falling trap to the threats due to a lack of guidance from their parents.
“ Women should start advising young girls and urging them to take care of themselves. It is also time for us men to start perceiving these girls as our children, not as our potential wives so that it becomes easy for us to give them advice,” said Kagwe.
Ministry of Health statistics indicates that between January and May this year, health facilities recorded 109,110 antenatal care visits by adolescents.
Out of these, 720 were in Nyeri County. Overall the figures show that in 2019 and 2021, the county recorded a 59 per cent increase in the number of teenage girls seeking ante-natal care.
The data also shows that there has been an 85 per cent increase in sexual and GBV cases reported among adolescents aged between 10 and 17 years in the past five years.
Between January and May this year, Nyeri County reported 105 adolescents aged between 10 and 17.