New Era (Windhoek)

31 October 2012

Namibia: Teenage Pregnancy Alarming in the Ohangwena Region

Eenhana — Last year about 1 691 learners dropped out of school due to teenage pregnancy, just one of the many challenges adolescents face on a daily basis.

This means on average of 30 children per classroom, Ohangwena region have closed 58 classes in 2011, 57 classes in 2010 and 56 classes in 2009.

According to the Ohangwena Region Health Director, John Hango, the youth pregnancy rate in the region is very high with 25 percent among the 17 year - olds, 35 percent among the 19 - year olds and 57 percent among the of year - olds who have given birth to children.

Hango referred to these statistics as "just the tip of the iceberg" adding that the numbers can be much higher but are simply not documented. Adolescent pregnancy remains very prevalent, particularly in the rural areas of the country, and has a negative impact on the health of the adolescents and their infants. He revealed these statistics at the official inauguration of the Namibia Plant Parenthood Association (NAPPA)'s Youth- Friendly clinic here on Saturday.

Hango said these youth's pregnancies are contributing to a high level of poverty and illiteracy in the region. "Adolescents should be able to manage a life without back street abortions and baby dumping, which usually occur when they do not want a child. Poor access to relevant information and services are especially problematic for the Namibian youths, as sexual education is not taught in schools and it is a taboo discussion topic at home with their parents," said Hango. He also revealed that the Ohangwena Regional Health Directorate received 78 cases of abortion in 2011, and this year from January to June his office received 74 cases. Many cases are suspected to be among the youths who are suspected to be undergoing illegal abortions.

The Deputy Minister of Youth, National Service, Sports and Culture, Pohamba Shifeta, officially opened the clinic and urged the Namibian youths, especially those in the Ohangwena region to respect their parents. "We should all as productive youths respect our parents and guardians irrespective of whether they are educated or not because these parents have travelled in this long journey called life. Whether you might hold a degree or a diploma from a university, but respect your parents because they know the road you are using for your journey to life," he said.

He advised youths especially those frequenting shebeens to stop this rowdy behaviour because it's destroying their future. "The health challenges adolescents face were brought to the forefront at a policy dialogue on Adolescent Health Services. Adolescents are considered boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 19." Shifeta further pointed out that family planning is central to promoting and preserving reproductive health. The 2011 National HIV Sentinel Survey indicates a slight decline in the overall HIV prevalence among the 15 to 19 year-old group of pregnant women, which stands at seven percent in comparison to 2011 when it was 5.1 percent.

Shifeta said rape, passion killings and other forms of sexual gender based violence (SGBV) are common in Namibia. In 2011, the Namibian police and the media reported that there were an estimated 15 000 SGBV cases during the previous year.

"This is likely to be gross underestimate, while SGBV encompasses much more than rape and domestic violence," he said He noted that officials dealing with survivors of abuse often have poor response skills. "They often get laughed at or are told that it was their fault resulting in these victims not reporting the crimes."

Caption: The Deputy Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, Pohamba Shifeta, unveiling the plaque of the Eenhana-NAPPA Friendly Clinic on Saturday during the official opening of the clinic.

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