Some 378,397 adolescent girls in Kenya aged between 10 and 19 years became pregnant between July 2016 and June this year.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a total of 28,932 girls aged between 10 and 14 years were impregnated, while 349,465 girls were between 15 to 19 years.

Counties with the highest burden of teenage pregnancies include Narok, in which 40 per cent of its teenagers became pregnant. It is followed by Homa Bay at 33 per cent, West Pokot 29 per cent, Tana River 28 per cent, Nyamira 28 per cent, Samburu 26 per cent, while Migori and Kwale both stand at 24 per cent.

Counties presenting the lowest burden include Murang’a, where only six per cent of teenagers became pregnant during the period. Nyeri was at seven per cent, and Embu at eight per cent.

UNFPA programme officer Kigen Korir said the early pregnancies are a burden on the country.

In Coast, Tana River, Kwale and Kilifi counties have the highest prevalence rate of teenage pregnancies.

“Touts, boda boda operators, disco matangas and child marriages are the cause of the pregnancies. Law enforcers and religious leaders should empower communities to deal with cultural child marriage in the marginalised counties in Coast region,” said the program officer in charge of adolescent and sexual reproductive health.

“Most of the girls dropped out of school after being impregnated. It compromises education attainment and the ability to secure decent economic opportunities. Morbidity and mortality pregnancy-related complications and abortion, early and child marriages should end,” said Mr Korir who was speaking on behalf of the programme manager in the Ministry of Health’s Family Health Division.

Speaking during the 13th annual Kenya Primary School Head Teachers Association conference in Mombasa, Mr Korir said the latest report on teenage pregnancies needs a collaborative approach to deal with it.

“It leads to an economic and social burden on families. Some counties are disproportionately affected than others,” he added.

HEALTH EDUCATION

He urged the government to enhance health education in schools in the new curriculum.

“Strengthen coordination between the Ministry of Health and Education for health education in schools, service delivery and data. We should ensure that schools remain safe havens and free from sexual abuse and violence,” he insisted.

The programme officer urged head teachers to support retention of adolescent mothers in schools, and also children on anti-retroviral treatment.

“We should promote re-entry of learners who drop out of school due to pregnancy-related causes, facilitate teachers, and ensure parental and community empowerment on sexual reproductive health, including care and support for adolescents living with HIV,” said Mr Korir.