What you need to know:
- The research conducted between 2019 and 2020 indicates that Busoga registered as many as 89,347 teenage pregnancies, followed by Tooro and Bunyoro at 57,660 and 57,295, respectively
Busoga Sub-region has the highest number of teenage pregnancies in the country, findings from the National Teenage Pregnancy Rate conducted by Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS) have revealed.
The research conducted between 2019 and 2020 indicates that Busoga registered as many as 89,347 teenage pregnancies, followed by Tooro and Bunyoro at 57,660 and 57,295, respectively.
For the other sub-regions, Bukedi registered 48,895 teenage pregnancies, Teso (43,099, Bugisu (38,790), Acholi (35,764) and Ankole reported the least number at 35,677.
Researchers attributed the alarming levels of teenage pregnancies to prolonged closure of schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic, poverty, poor parenting and moral degeneration.
“Failed parenthood and vulnerability of girls has led us to witness unprecedented levels of defilement, domestic violence and sexual abuse leading to increased teenage pregnancies and early marriages,” the report reads in part.
The study focused on girls between the age of 10 and 19.
According to the report, teenage pregnancy rate has stagnated over years at 25 percent despite the interventions put in place to address sexual and reproductive health issues for young people.
Dr Betty Kyadondo, the director of Family Health National Population Council, said since 2018 to date, the country has registered about 350,000 cases of teenage pregnancy across the country, with Busoga topping the list.
“About 350,000 teenage pregnancies occur annually nationwide and 30,000 young girls aged between 13 and 19 are getting pregnant every month, implying that 10,000 girls are getting pregnant every day, which is so worrying,’’ Dr Kyadondo said.
She made the remarks during a regional dialogue on Building Champions for Teenage Pregnancy Prevention organised by Agency for Cooperation in Research and Development (ACORD) in conjunction with National Population Council (NPC) with support from United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) at Tororo Rock Classic Hotel on Wednesday.
Dr Kyadondo said the situation in the Bukedi Sub-region is also appalling as compared to national figures.
“In 2021, Kibuku, Butaleja and Butebo registered a higher percentage of pregnant women that are teenagers from all antenatal care clients,” she said.
She explained that 82.5 percent of teenage girls in Bukedi delivered in health facilities, greater than the national average of 67.1 percent in 2021.
According to the report, more than 47,000 teenage girls were impregnated in Bukedi during the two years.
Statistics from the National Population Council indicate that Bukedi registered an increase in the number of teenage pregnancies from 23,829 in 2019 to 25,066 in 2020 and 22,944 in the months between January and October 2021.
The Tororo District chairperson, Mr John Okeya, advised the local councils to formulate ordinances to fight the vice.
The Busia District education officer, Ms Harriet Mwesigwa, said keeping girls in school reduces teenage pregnancies.
“We need joint efforts to fight defilement, early marriages and teenage pregnancy in the country. This will save our teen girls,” Ms Mwesigwa said.
The Butaleja Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Ms Loyce Joy Nambozo, said in the district, with or without Covid-19, the number of teenage pregnancies have always remained high.
She cited 2018 when the district registered 3,923 teenage pregnancies while in 2019, they recorded 3,220 and in 2020 and 2021, they recorded 3,113 and 2,618, respectively.
Ms Catherine Atwine, the coordinator ACORD, said the objectives of the dialogue were to review the current teenage pregnancy levels in the various districts and identify key drivers.