Understanding Adolescence- A Guide to Curb Teenage Pregnancies

By Raisa Okwaras

The Ministry of Health in Kenya has released a guidebook to help adolescents cope with physical, social, and emotional challenges in a bid to curb the rising rate of teenage pregnancies in the country.

The social and reproductive health guide is known as ‘Understanding Adolescence- A Guide for Adolescents’. It covers a variety of topics including mental health, healthy interactions, sexually transmitted illnesses, drug and substance abuse, and communication.

In 2021, the National Council for Population Development (NCPD) together with the National AIDS Control Council (NACC) released a report that showed that nine counties in Kenya contributed more than half of the pregnancy cases of girls aged between ten and fourteen between January 2020 and September 2021.

According to the report dubbed Adolescent Pregnancy in Kenya, Homa Bay, Bomet, Kajiado, Kericho, Mandera, Kisii, Meru, Nairobi, and Narok collectively had 20, 803 pregnancies of the girls aged 10 to 14.  The same report shows 2018 to have the highest number of teenage pregnancies in Kenya, standing at 427,135.

A further report by Sauti Sasa Youth Voice in July 2020 shows that a whopping nine hundred teenage girls in Kenya get pregnant every day. This leads to over 13,000 girls dropping out of school every year due to pregnancy-related issues.

While it is easier to blame the closure of schools due to the covid-19 pandemic for the spike in teenage pregnancy numbers, it is clear that such cases had been on the rise even before Covid-19 hit. Take the 2018 case, for example. Also, the Global Childhood 2019 statistics ranked Kenya third globally for teenage pregnancies, showing 82 in every 1000 births.

The sad reality is that while more teenage girls are falling pregnant, the majority of them end up having teen pregnancy and birth-related complications. These may permanently affect their health and wellbeing, with some leading to deaths.

In 2021, one in five pregnancies were of teenage girls. This guidebook will come in handy to help them understand their bodies, gender-based violence, their social environment, and how to make the right choices.

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