By Matilda Atieno
County health and gender officials held a multi-sectoral meeting with state officers from the Ministry of Interior, Education, the state office of gender and non-state actors to explore initiatives in handling early unintended pregnancies among teenagers and the youth across Kisumu.
Teenage pregnancies remain a major public health problem with lasting repercussions for teenage mothers, their infants and families, and society as a whole. Amid covid-19, challenges of early unintended pregnancies to the adolescent and youth including, the unpreparedness of the parents and caregivers, prolonged closure of learning institutions as well as availability of health services with all attention diverted to covid-19.
In 2020 Kisumu county recorded 17% of teenage pregnancy cases, a slight decrease compared to the 20% in 2019 as captured in the Kisumu health information system which is the number of those who received antenatal care.
The meeting supported by KELIN, a non-state actor, deliberated on the gaps experienced in an attempt to synergize interventions towards early unintended pregnancies across the county and to authentic data from different sources.
On behalf of the county government, the County Reproductive Health Coordinator, Jane Owuor stated that the health department has scaled up youth-friendly health services in major public facilities and has had an engagement with the youth on several platforms with support from stakeholders.
Madam Owuor urged the stakeholders to come together in partnership to take stoke of and develop an action plan for interventions to develop a strategy.
Despite the presidential directive that allows free antenatal care to all pregnant teenagers and a policy that allows teenage mothers to return to school, interventions such as psychosocial support and empowerment are crucial.
Successful strategies include community programs to improve social development, sexual reproductive health education and improved contraceptive counseling and delivery. This calls for a multifaceted intervention through a multi-sectoral approach designed to prevent early teenage pregnancies in Kisumu.