Nairobi tops list of teen and adolescent pregnancies, report

By Mourice Seretta 

The National AIDS Control Council (NACC) and National Council for Population Development (NCPD) on Monday released latest data on HIV and teen pregnancies in the country ahead of World AIDS Day that will be commemorated on 1st December 2021 in Nakuru County.

This year’s theme is ‘End Teenage Pregnancy towards Elimination of Inequalities and New HIV Infections’.

While releasing the Data, NACC Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Ruth Laibon-Masha, said that in Kenya’ s history, 2018 recorded the highest number of teenage pregnancies (427,135), however, a monthly trend analysis on the teenagers presenting at ANC indicates a 15% increase in the number from March 2020 and March 2021for both adolescents aged 10-14 years and 15 to 19 years.

In her report, she disclosed that 9 Counties contributed to 56% (20,803) of the total teenage pregnancies among adolescents aged 10-14years

‘Adolescent girl pregnancy undermines achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is imperative for the country to embrace a Human Centered Design Approach to better address this issue. The community level role cannot be overemphasized in the fight against teenage pregnancies,’ she said.

On HIV, she said that there is progress in reduction of new HIV infections but not fast enough to achieve the 2030 goal of ending AIDS.

‘New HIV infection among adolescents aged 10-19 years dropped from 18004 in 2015 to 5294 in 2021. Similarly, AIDS related deaths within the same period declined from 2793 to 1473 among the same sub-population.’ She said.

She added that there was need for the country to rethink new strategies in eradicating teenage pregnancies and new HIV infections.

On his part, NCPD Director General, Dr. Ahmed Sheikh, offered that sexual violence, poverty, lack of parental guidance and peer pressure, inadequate reproductive health information and many others are the main reasons driving the riuse in teenage pregnancies.

He advised that to win the fight against the negative vice that he says was derailing economic growth needs a multi-faced approach.

‘Adolescent Pregnancy is anti-development: Threatens human life, increases disease burden, and derails a country’s economic trajectory.’ He said.

Dr Sheik said that the report released indicated Nairobi, Kajiado, Meru, Homa Bay and Kericho counties topped the list of counties with highest reported cases of teenage and adolescent pregnancies. He attributed the vice to inequality.

He outlined that for instance, in the Eastern Region, half the counties reported an increase in adolescent pregnancy: Embu, Kitui, Machakos, Marsabit.

He further warned that adolescent pregnancy puts girls and women at heightened risk of contracting HIV, STIs and Cervical Cancer.

He offered that there was need to make necessary investments to ensure transition from primary to secondary school and beyond, fully support school re-entry of girls who drop out due to pregnancy and other factors, provision of sanitary pads to adolescent girls, strengthen  delivery of age appropriate sexual reproductive health information, strategic investments in the on-going curriculum reforms, empowerment programmes targeting parents, innovations to keep the adolescents occupied and last but not least implementation and enforcement of relevant policies and laws.

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