22 November 2011

South Africa: Teenage Pregnancy Rate Declines in Gauteng

Pretoria — Teenage pregnancies have seen a slight drop in Gauteng.

According to a report tabled by the Gauteng Department of Health and Social Development before the Gender Youth and Disability committee in the provincial legislature, there was a slight decrease in the number of babies born from teenage mothers in the province in the 2010/11 financial year compared to the previous year.

Teenage mothers were responsible for 5.6 percent of babies born in the province in 2010/11 compared to 5.8 percent in the 2009/10.

MEC for Health and Social Development, Ntombi Mekgwe, said the fact that there was no increase and there was a slight decrease indicates that the message was getting through and the rate of teenage pregnancies was stabilising.

"However, more work still needs to be done to accelerate the decline in teenage pregnancy and improve the status of women in the province," Mekgwe said.

In February this year, Mekgwe launched the campaign against teenage pregnancy in Tembisa which had the highest rate of teenage pregnancies when compared to other areas.

Between April and December last year, 1 756 girls under the age of 18 gave birth in Tembisa Hospital and Esangweni clinic.

Mekgwe also noted an improvement in the proportion of women booking antenatal care visits before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The number of women bookings increased from 27.3 percent in the first quarter 2010/11 to 30.7 percent the first quarter of this financial year.

Last year, the department implemented new protocols for the management of HIV in pregnancy, which include that all pregnant women who test HIV positive with a CD4 count of 350 are put on anti-retroviral therapy and infants less than one year who are HIV positive now receive antiretroviral treatment (ART) irrespective of their CD4 count.

Babies of HIV-positive mothers are also tested for HIV at six weeks and immediately placed on ART if the result is positive.

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