Agago District has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies and school dropouts among girls in the country, a new report has revealed.
Findings by the District Health Department indicate that of the 12,000 pregnancies registered across all health facilities last year, 28 per cent were teenagers, a figure higher than the national average of 25 per cent.
In an interview with Daily Monitor at the weekend, State minister for Primary Health Care Joyce Kaducu Moriku said Agago has surpassed Karamoja sub-region that had previously reported the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the country.
“The 28 per cent teenage pregnancy rate puts Agago District highest [in the country], which is very worrying for the young generation. This is because some are not yet capable of making informed decisions in regard to their sexual and reproductive health,” she said.
Dr Moriku accused the law enforcement bodies of not doing enough to bring defilers to book.
She also attributed the high pregnancy rate to information gaps about reproductive health.
Speaking at celebrations to mark World Contraception Day in Kalongo Town Council, Agago District, last week, Dr Moriku asked God to cut off the manhood of defilers.
“God, I ask you to come down very fast and cut off all their long tails. Our young girls have been reduced to nothing and made hopeless by these defilers who are their fathers and grandfathers. They are seducing underage girls with money and useless gifts to defile and impregnate them,” the minister prayed.
Mr Leonard Ojok, the district chairperson, says they have few government health facilities from where sexual and reproductive health services can be accessed by women and teenage girls.
He said of the 10 sub-counties in the district, five have no health facility (health centre II or III) and they happen to be the areas with the high rates of defilement, teenage pregnancies and school dropouts. They are Patongo, Omiapacwa, Kotomor, Lamiyo and Lukole.
Mr Ray Okwir, the resident district commissioner, says parents often trade their daughters for alcohol, the reason for the alarming teenage pregnancies.
“It is parents aiding it by selling their girls to men and when police come in, they conceal it. We have embarked on arrestingsuch parents while investigating defilers,” Mr Okwir said.
ABOUT TEENAGE PREGNANCY
Prevalence. The 2016 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey indicates that 25 per cent of the adolescent girls and young women aged 15-19 in Uganda are pregnant or mothers, which is one of the highest teenage rates in sub-Saharan Africa. The rise in early child-bearing is attributed to low education attainment.
Dangers. Teenage pregnancy has drastic and far-reaching health, development and economic effects at the individual, family, community and national levels.
Efforts. The Ministry of Health in February launched a drive dubbed “Live your Dream” aimed at fighting teenage pregnancy.