By: Hendrina Kanyolo
The Kavango West, Kunene and Kavango East regions have recorded the highest number of underage pregnancies around the country respectively during the past two years.
According to Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula, for the year 2020/2021 teenage pregnancies stood at 14.54 percent while during 2021/2022 underage pregnancies stood at 14.95 percent. This translated to more than 15 000 teenage pregnancies per year.
Shangula noted that Khomas, Erongo and Oshana regions recorded the lowest ratio of underage pregnancies during 2020/2021.
“Teenage pregnancies have a tremendous impact on the lives of the affected young women. Not only do unplanned pregnancies disrupt the education trajectory of these young people. It may also give rise to other negative results such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also the risk of injury during birth as the body of underage girls may not be not fully developed,” said Shangula while speaking during the donation of reproductive health kits worth N$2 million from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Embassy of Japan yesterday.
The donations included boxes of injectable contraceptives as well as 12 RH Kit Male Condoms and 4 RH Rape Treatment kits, seven thousand (7000) Implantable Contraceptives and 3 000 Male Condoms.
The minister added that many young girls suffer from depression after falling pregnant and may develop other health related complications such as miscarriages while some attempt unsafe and illegal termination of pregnacies which results in injury and death.
According to Shangula it is important that contraceptives are made available and the number is increased on a daily basis to those who use them, because a new generation of women enters the reproductive age every year which is between 14 and 49 years which makes the reproductive duration very long.
The Health Minister added that it is equally important to instill men with the understanding to respect the wishes and rights of women. Shangula said it must become a norm in society that a woman has the right to accept a suitor or not, and has the right to choose a partner or leave a relationship when it is toxic.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Officer in Charge, Loide Amkongo, said their aim is to help and support the Government and its partners to achieve four transformative results, namely, ending preventable maternal deaths, ending gender-based violence and harmful practices, and ending HIV transmissions in the country.
"The unmet need for contraceptives continues to be high among adolescents. It shows our adolescent girls in Namibia, as you learnt, using contraceptives is the lowest compared to other age groups," noted Amkongo addin that various intervetion need to be made within that age group and it is such support that the need will be met,” said Amkongo.