Namibia Tackles Early Pregnancy

13 February 2020

NAMIBIA has reaffirmed its commitment to reducing early and unintended pregnancies among the youth.

The country is one of 21 states in the eastern and southern African region which in 2013 committed to reducing early and unintended pregnancies by 75% by the end of this year.

Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) has some of the highest adolescent fertility rates in the world.

According to the Unesco representative to Namibia, Djaffar Moussa-Elkadhum, early and unintended pregnancies (EUP) are a public health concern, which is highly prevalent in Namibia.

"EUP is a huge challenge for Namibia with a pregnancy and childbearing prevalence of 19% among girls aged 15 to 19 years," he said.

This means almost two out of 10 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 years have given birth or are pregnant.

This is based on the 2013 demo-graphic health survey.

Moussa-Elkadhum said traditional norms, low levels of education, sexual abuse because of physical and financial vulnerability and poverty are some of the factors that contribute to high rates of teenage pregnancy in Namibia.

"Forty percent of the pregnancies in this age group [15-19] were a result of non-consensual sex," he said.

Moussa-Elkadhum made these re-marks at a capacity-building workshop on EUP for the media in Windhoek on Monday.

The training preceded the launch of the 'Let's talk' social and behaviour change campaign for Namibia by the education ministry.

It will target girls between ages two and 19.

The campaign, which will be launched tomorrow, is premised on three key focus areas - education, rights, and health.

The education will ensure that adolescents have an equal right to education and have the required knowledge to make informed life choices and delay pregnancy through comprehensive sex education.

A report submitted to the National Assembly last year revealed that more than 2 000 pupils dropped out of school be-tween 2017 and 2018 due to pregnancy.

Transactional and intergenerational sexual relationships related to both poverty/survival and the need to obtain material goods that are unaffordable, place girls at high risk for unprotected sex, and hence, pregnancy.

Statistics from the demographic health survey of 2013, which is the latest statistics available, showed higher EUP rates in rural areas, among the poor with low levels of education. The statistics revealed that 45,1% of the girls who fell pregnant between the ages of 15 and 19 had received little or no education.

They also revealed that 70 out of every 100 pregnancies in this age group were unintended, meaning they were unplanned or unexpected.

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