Teenage pregnancies overwhelm Budaka

Thursday June 13 2019

Dialogue. Members of Parliament on the

Dialogue. Members of Parliament on the Parliamentary Health Committee interface with some of the teenage girls at Budaka Health Centre in September 2017. FILE PHOTO 


In a remote Village of Kasuleta, Kasuleta Parish, Naboa Sub-county in Budaka District, lives a 20-year-old woman, who I found cuddling her baby.
Looking frail, Ms Norah Namuduko, a mother of three, said she first got pregnant at the age of 10.
“I first got pregnant when I was in Primary Six and after that, l was forced to drop out of school and get married,” Ms Namuduko, who is now four-months pregnant, said.
Ms Namuduko is among the 24.7 per cent of teenage girls, who get pregnant below the age of 18 years in Budaka.
Dr Elisa Mulwani, the Budaka District health officer, said such cases of teenage pregnancies in the district are overwhelming and worrying the district leaders.
“The district figure could be much higher than the current figure because most of the cases are not reported to the concerned authorities,” he said.
Mr Mulwani attributed the cases to poverty, ignorance and love for bride price by the parents, especially in the rural communities.
“The drivers of these teenage pregnancies include poor parenting coupled with high levels of poverty,” he said.
Ms Mwajuma Namujogo, 17, a resident of Nakatende Village, Naboa Sub-county and another victim of teenage pregnancy, said life is challenging.
“It’s quite challenging to be pregnant at a tender age because that is the beginning of difficulty in the world,” she said.
The In-charge of Naboa Health Centre, Mr Sam Lyadda, said the rate at which “babies” are mothering babies is indeed worrying, adding that this comes with severe complications.
“More young girls turn to deliver almost on daily basis at the facility,” he said.
He added that 15 per cent of mothers who deliver at the facility are teenage girls. “This is a worrying trend that needs concerted efforts,” Mr Lyadda said, adding that the costs related to teenage pregnancies remain a big burden to the country.
“Many of the teenage mothers are unable to get an education and they are likely to fall into poverty creating a vicious cycle of early pregnancies, illiteracy and poverty which can be hard to break,” he said.
The Budaka District Woman Member of Parliament, Ms Pamela Nasiyo Kamugo, said the rising teenage pregnancies calls for an urgent intervention from different partners.
“There is a serious problem in the district. As leaders, let’s engage these children at an early stage to desist from early sex, but short of that, the district and the country would be heading to a disaster,” Ms Kamugo said.
She added that the implications of early pregnancy are immense.
“For a young girl to get pregnant, the complications associated with it include high risks of infections, delivery complications, as well as maternal death,” she said.