from HASSAN ONYANGO in Kampala, Uganda
KAMPALA, (CAJ News) – UGANDA has lurched into a teenage pregnancy crisis as COVID-19 and the recent outbreak of Ebola are prioritised.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) disclosed that over 4 000 girls under 18 years reported for their first antenatal care (ANC) visit at various IRC supported health facilities in Bidi Bidi refugee settlement between January 2020 and September 2022.
Furthermore, nearly 2 000 teenage deliveries were reported at the various health facilities in the same period.
IRC warned of the effects of early pregnancy and sexual exploitation on the well-being of adolescent girls in emergency situations.
“With all focus drawn to the COVID-19 response and now the Ebola outbreak in Uganda, some critical sectors and social services have been deprioritised,” said Elijah Okeyo, IRC Uganda Country Director.
He said several vulnerable girls are at higher risk of sexual exploitation and violence, which has become a chronic problem.
Okeyo said getting pregnant would force these teenage girls out of school and deprive them of opportunities to make a decent livelihood.
“It is high time attention is brought back to key sectors such as education, child protection and targeted sexual health and rights information and services for young girls and boys.”
Uganda has confirmed 142 cases and 55 deaths since the outbreak of Ebola on September 9.
Some 12 children are among those dead.
The country has confirmed 169 810 cases and 3 630 deaths from COVID-19.
– CAJ News