What you need to know:
- The report also indicates that families of teenage mothers in 2020 spent Shs1.28 trillion on sexual and reproductive health care and an estimated health facility expenditure of Shs246.9 billion.
The rate of teenage pregnancy in Uganda has stagnated at 25 percent for more than a decade, a report released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on Tuesday at Sheraton Kampala Hotel, has revealed.
This is far higher than the country’s desired rate and target of at least 15 percent by 2020.
The report titled, “The cost of inaction, the economic and social burden of teenage pregnancy in Uganda”, indicates that whereas the percentage of women aged between 15 and 19 years who have given birth or are pregnant declined between 2001 and 2006 from 31 percent to 25 percent, it has stagnated at 25 percent for the last 15 years.
This is mainly attributed to sexual violence, limited access to integrated sexual and reproductive health services, gender based violence, cultural norms that cherish early marriages, and low contraceptive prevalence rate, among others.
The Population Secretariat indicates that of the 1.2 million pregnancies recorded in Uganda annually, 25 percent of these are teenagers.
The report also indicates that families of teenage mothers in 2020 spent Shs1.28 trillion on sexual and reproductive health care and an estimated health facility expenditure of Shs246.9 billion.
The report, however, reveals that there are signs of a rising trend in teenage pregnancy which has been accentuated by Covid-19 and the related containment measures such as a two year lockdown that exposed more girls to sexual violence.
The report indicates that in 2021 for example, about 31,566 girls got pregnant on a monthly basis, an equivalent of 1,052 daily.
The 2020 National Survey on violence revealed that in the last 45 years, more than half of the girls have experienced childhood sexual abuse, which may also explain the unchanging level of teenage pregnancy.
The report says the trend jeopardises fulfilment of young girls potential, including education, potential for gainful employment, productivity and successful life of these girls, as many continue to be trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty.
Teenage pregnancy contributes to 20 percent of the infant deaths and 28 percent of maternal deaths.
Officiating at the launch of the inaction, the economic and social burden of teenage pregnancy and the state of world population reports, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja said the two reports are timely because they have come at a time when the world and Uganda are trying to tackle the impact of Covid-19 on the economy.
“If the right investments are made to ensure that young people are healthy, properly educated and appropriately skilled, Uganda stands to benefit from it. If on the other hand, we don’t make the right investment, we stand to lose. That is the fact,” she said.
Ms Nabbanja called upon all stakeholders to stop lamenting about the problem but ensure that a solution is found. She also said all girls who got pregnant during the Covid-19-induced lockdown should be encouraged to go back to school.
The UNFPA representative, Dr Mary Otieno, said preventing teenage pregnancy leads to high economic returns and offers the best guarantee of a productive workforce in future.