At least 4,300 teenage pregnancies were registered in the first four months of the Covid-19 lockdown by Uganda’s ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
A statement by the State minister for Youth and Children Affairs, Ms Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi, said that the high cases registered in March, April, May and June are worrying trend.
“These are the few reported cases, as government we condemn all the acts of defilement and child abuse. It’s also true that the responsibility of child care and upbringing for those below the age of 18 is primarily on parents,” Nakiwala said.
The minister revealed that they have introduced a mobile platform dubbed safe-pal that will be used by victims to report and also provide evidence when sexually offended.
“We came up with this programme because victims have been facing challenges such as getting transport to police stations and accessing justice,” she said
Human rights activists under the umbrella of Children at risk Action Network (CRANE) revealed that during the lockdown they handled more than 400 teenage pregnancies from 12 districts.
An officer with Crane said adolescent pregnancy predisposes young girls to adverse mental health with depression and anxiety being the most common.
“In order to improve the behavioural and environmental outcomes for teenage mothers, it is imperative that certain key intervention which include; community sensitisation, family reconciliation, creation of teenage mother’s support groups, counselling and advocacy be provided to them,” said the officer.
Few centres in Uganda provide this support and care for teenage children. According to statistics, teenage girls of 10 to 19 years are twice more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth compared to the women in their 20s