Seminar finds the lack of adequate sexual and reproductive health services and education are the main drivers of teenage pregnancy in SA. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)
Seminar finds the lack of adequate sexual and reproductive health services and education are the main drivers of teenage pregnancy in SA. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Experts unpack causes of teenage pregnancy

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Sep 1, 2021

Share this article:

NOKWANDA NCWANE

Pretoria - The lack of adequate sexual and reproductive health services and education are the main drivers of teenage pregnancy in South Africa.

This emerged from a seminar yesterday on challenges relating to sexual and reproductive health rights in South Africa and teenage pregnancy. The event was hosted by the Commission for Gender Equality.

Speakers included Deputy Minister of Social Development, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, Muzi Ndlovu of the Department of Basic Education, Beryl Traore of LoveLife, Steve Letsike representing the South African National Aids Council and Professor Mary Crewe, of the University of Pretoria.

According to Ndlovu, early and unintended pregnancy among learners in the country continued to undermine the department’s efforts.

“Despite having policies in place, learner pregnancies are still on the rise.

“If we provide adequate sexual and reproductive education, it can help reduce unplanned pregnancies and HIV infections among learners.”

He said some teachers were not comfortable to teach comprehensive sex education, making the environment not conducive enough for learners.

“Research has also indicated that sexual reproductive health services are not available to learners at their local clinics.”

Ndlovu added that the number of adolescent girls who had sexual relationships with older people continued to increase over the years.

The seminar was held in the wake of increase in teenage pregnancies in Gauteng, as revealed by the Health MEC Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi in the provincial legislature.

Responding to questions, Mokgethi said 934 girls aged between 10 and 14 had given birth between April last year and March this year.

The number was even higher at 19 316 for girls aged between 15 and 19 years.

A further 2 976 girls aged between 10 and 19 years had undergone abortions, she said.

The total number of teenagers who fell pregnant was 23 226, the MEC said.

Statistics South Africa reported that 121 000 young girls aged 10 to 19 delivered babies in health facilities in 2019.

Last year, 3 774 deliveries were recorded for girls aged between 10 to 14 years, and 132 612 in the 15 and 19 age group.  A record number of 14 043 terminations were reported for the same year.

“These pregnancies took place during the first intense lockdown and learners were not at school. Somehow this shows that school does provide a safe space to shield learners from unprotected sex and other non-educational activities,” said Ndlovu.

Department of Health's chief director for women's maternal health and eproductive health, Dr Manala Makua, said teenage pregnancy was a symptom of a dysfunctional society.

“Diet and evolution are some of the factors that contribute to early sexual debuts and early puberty development. Improving access to the sexual reproductive health services and skilled health care workers to respond to the sexual reproductive health needs of young people will go a long way in the fight against teenage pregnancy and unsafe abortions,” she said.

Different speakers also shared information from studies conducted on how the LGBTQI community faced a range of human rights abuses that included reduced/limited access to health care and other related public services.

Some also shared how gays and lesbians were the most marginalised in society, contrary to the country’s world-renowned Constitution, which was the first in the world to prohibit unfair discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and thereby guarantees equality for gay and lesbian people.

Pretoria News

Share this article: