MORE than 700 school girls dropped from school in Rukwa region between 2017 and 2019 due to pregnancy, a situation which calls for immediate intervention.
In that period, about 171 primary school pupils aged between 11 and 14 years dropped out of school after becoming pregnant, while 551 were in secondary schools.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), adolescent pregnancies are a global problem that occurs in high, middle and low income countries.
Around the world, adolescent pregnancies are more likely to occur in marginalized communities, commonly driven by poverty and lack of education and employment opportunities.
The Rukwa Regional Medical Officer (RMO), Dr. Boniface Kasululu disclosed the gloomy picture recently before the 36 meeting of Regional Consultative Committee - RCC held here in the municipality while presenting a 2020-25 Strategic Plan draft on eliminating early and school pregnancies in the region come 2030.
However, members of the RCC unanimously approved a 17 page draft during the meeting chaired by the Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr. Joachim Wangabo.
The decision of preparing the draft was reached during a stakeholders meeting coordinated and funded by Plan International Tanzania, who are working jointly and together with Jhpiego and Africare, with funding from the Canadian government.
He further explained that the number of students who have been impregnated could be higher than the one reported because the region did not have suitable and accurate technique of following reports of early pregnancies.
"It is obvious that the latest statistics of early pregnancies in our region could be lower," added the RMO.
According to latest statistics, Rukwa region is projected to have 77,142 teenage girls aged between 15 and 19 years, and out of them, 22,371, equivalent to 29 per cent, have been impregnated or have babies.
"Equally, the rate of early pregnancies for girls who are illiterate is higher by 50 per cent, compared to 10 per cent of those who have gone to school and reached secondary school level," explained RMO.
Contributing, the Rukwa Regional Prosecutions Officer, Mr Saraji Iboru said most medical doctors are reluctant to testify over the early pregnancy cases in courts, and as a result the culprits are set free due to lack of evidence.