SOME female parents in Rukwa region encourage their teen daughters to use birth control pills in efforts to delay unwanted pregnancies until they finish both primary and secondary school education.
Ms Annakleda Nkale (64) from Mkangale area in the small town of Namanyere in Nkasi district disclosed this before a team of representatives of defence and security of child and women committee during a meeting.
She disclosed that due to alarming rate of early pregnancy cases in the region, parents, mostly mothers, persuade their teen school going daughters to apply family planning methods so that they can safely finish their studies.
"We are doing this to protect our teen daughters from becoming pregnant while in school and subsequently shattering their dreams by terminating their studies... . We know each other , one of my neighbours confirmed to me recently that she has been encouraging her daughter to take birth control pills shortly after she experienced her first menstrual period while she was in standard six.
The girl has now joined form one early this year," she further explained. The meeting attracted and drew participants from four wards of Namanyere, Nkandasi, Nkomolo and Chala in Nkasi District, Rukwa region, and coordinated by Grace Community Development & Education (GCDE), with funding from Foundation for Civil Society (FCS).
Scores of women from Nkasi district and Sumbawanga municipality admitted that their teen daughters are using birth control pills to protect themselves from becoming pregnant while in school, as most of them are in primary and secondary schools.
Similar sentiments were echoed by Ms Sauda Nguma and Ms Elizabeth Chikopela, who are residents of Sumbawanga municipality. The latest official statistics indicate that the high rate of early pregnancies and marriages is still worrisome in Rukwa region, as 29 per cent of teenage and school girls aged from 15 to 19 years old have either been impregnated or given birth.
Reached for comment, the Rukwa Regional Medical Officer (RMO), Dr Boniface Kasululu told the 'Daily News' in a phone interview that birth control pills are very safe, although they can have slight complications.
"Some of the teens have been attending adolescent reproductive health services training, which empowers them to know and exercise their rights, including the right to delay early marriage as well as to refuse unwanted sexual advances," explained the RMO.
During the meeting, participants listed several causes leading to early pregnancies, including lack of information on sexual and reproductive health and rights, inadequate access to services custom-made for teens.