By Stan Sandler
I refer to the article by Nicola Daniels, “1708 Christmas babies; 145 teen moms” in the December 28 edition.
The statistics are worth repeating for various reasons and not only because they show a significant increase from the 1 414 deliveries recorded on Christmas Day, 2022.
Special wishes were conveyed to all the parents including to the more than 145 teenage mothers. In giving balance to the sentiments of special wishes to all the parents, including the 145 teenagers as they embark on the rewarding journey of parenthood, the Department of Public Health, to its credit, expressed concern about the increasing number of teen mothers and the negative impact it could have on their future. So why the good wishes in the first place, I have to ask?
Again to its credit, the Department of Public Health issued a clarion call to society to collaborate with the government on its sexual and reproductive health awareness campaign. What campaign, I again have to ask?
This is the first time in aeons that I note any reference by any health department referring to the relevant health care facilities.
The article noted the good wishes extended to the mothers only with no mention of delight or congratulations to the fathers.
The Health MEC in the Western Cape concludes the article by wishing the babies born a strong and stable start to their lives. With more than 62% of babies born daily in South Africa to a fatherless unit, one has to ask what chances these babies have.
Fast forward to the article written by Lukhanyo Makhenyane in the December 29 edition. The writer attends the funeral of Kholisile “Kotla” Booi. What moved the writer of this article most, was the eulogies of Kotla’s two children. “Kotla was born at a time when absent fathers were prevalent and it's worth repeating in Kotla’s own words that most young men of his generation ‘never knew their fathers, never heard the shout of their fathers from the touchline in a sports game, or from the pews at a school concert’. Kotla was a father figure to his son, Likhey, instilling in him values and principles and his last words to his daughter, Nekamva, were that Likhey would take good care of her.” Kotla, according to the writer, was a model of perfection to his children. He gave his children love and time. He encompassed the family unit. He couldn’t abide the thought of having children who didn’t know who their father was. He gave meaning to the family unit.
In his editorial on the issue of teenage pregnancy in the December 28 edition, the editor maintains that teenage pregnancy remains a scourge of society and should not be highlighted in a positive way as if to showcase these births as an accomplishment.
Again after many years, it is plausible to hear positive comments on the issue, not only about to teenage pregnancies but to the unplanned and unwanted pregnancies resulting in single mothers saddled with another mouth to feed.
Education of the masses in simple terms, family planning clinics set up in well-placed areas close to communities is required.
Attainable or a chimaera?