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Child pregnancies rampant: Report


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| The Herald

Thandeka Moyo Bulawayo Bureau
About 95 000 children in Zimbabwe fall pregnant due to child marriages
each year, new data has revealed.

Statistics show that approximately 500 000 teenagers fall pregnant every
year, with 19 percent of the pregnancies in this group a result of child
marriages.

Adolescent pregnancy remains a major challenge and contributor to maternal
and child mortality and the vicious circle of ill-health and poverty in
Zimbabwe.

About 24 percent of the country&;s population is in the 15 to 19 years age
group.

"Almost a fifth – 19 percent of female adolescents between 15-19 years
were pregnant as a result of early marriage," reads the report by the
Ministry of Health and Child Care, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
and Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC).

The same report says 48 percent of adolescents have confirmed that the
pregnancies were unplanned, while 45 percent said they wanted a child.

"Another concern on children is the proportion of adolescent girls aged
between 15 and 17 years who got pregnant because of early marriage, which
stands at 19 percent, showing the prevalence of child marriages in the
country.

"About 11 percent were sexually abused or raped," reads the report.

It said Mashonaland Central Province has the highest prevalence rate of
adolescents falling pregnant with 28,1 percent, followed by Manicaland
Province with 25,4 percent.

"On position three is Matabeleland North with 23,6 percent, followed by
Matabeleland South with 22 percent and then Mashonaland East stands at
18,5 percent," reads the report.

Mashonaland West has 16,3 percent, while Bulawayo has the third least
prevalence at 11,1 percent followed by Masvingo at 8,3 percent.

Harare has the least prevalence at 6,8 percent."

ZNFPC provincial manager for Matabeleland region Mr Blessed Gumbi said the
Ministry of Heath and Child Care had launched the National Adolescent and
Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy 2016-2020 aimed at reducing
the teenage pregnancy rate from 22 percent to 12 percent by 2020.

"Teenage pregnancies are still a burden in the country which needs to be
addressed to avert a lot of health problems. We are also working towards
increasing contraceptive prevalence in Zimbabwe from 65,6 percent to 68
percent by 2020," he said.

The UNFPA says each adolescent pregnancy poses risks of maternal and child
morbidity and mortality.

The health risks include maternal deaths, pregnancy complications such as
obstetric fistula, uterine rapture and unsafe abortions.

Original: http://www.herald.co.zw/child-pregnancies-rampant-report/


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