Tanzania: New Strategy Needed to Curb Early Pregnancies

HARDLY a day goes by without the media reporting on cases of early pregnancies, of the number of pregnant girls in a particular school or region.

The government has put strict laws and regulations to make sure that this trend becomes history, but it is discouraging to note that the cases continue to rise.

Statistics show that school dropouts caused by pregnancies increased from 5.2 per cent in 2003 to 21.9 per cent in 2007. Among other factors, social and cultural reasons for teen pregnancies include poor parental monitoring, pressure from peer groups and sexual feelings among individuals.

The high rate of teen pregnancies is not only due to economic and low knowledge about sexuality but also due to other social factors that affect day to day life of the teenagers.

Teen pregnancies are due to unprotected and early sexual intercourse, which also exposes teenagers to other risks of contacting Sexually Transmitted Infections and other sexual diseases such as HIV Aids.

Prevention of teenagers from engaging in love affairs at early stages is a very important intervention in preventing of early pregnancies. Education on sexuality, its impacts and uses of contraceptives should be provided in primary school at early grades.

In Tanzania, if you're a schoolgirl and fall pregnant, it could mean the end of your education. Even though successive governments have made a push for girls education, those that fall pregnant are routinely expelled from school, and prevented from returning.

Rates of teenage pregnancy and childbirth in Tanzania are only likely to increase if action isn't taken to help girls overcome challenges like these, rather than marginalize them further.

Parents and guardians are important source of reproductive health education to adolescents and useful for prevention of early pregnancies. Early marriages are not as much important as source of adolescent pregnancies.

Parents/guardians should educate their children on reproductive issues, and to increase access to education for girls, which is of paramount importance in preventing adolescent pregnancies.

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