Kasungu — Following the closure of schools in the country as a preventive measure against COVID-19 pandemic, the Kasungu district early pregnancy report for primary school students has indicated alarming figures for pregnant girls and early marriages in the district.
It has been established that since the shutdown of schools due to covid-19 pandemic, Kasungu has so far recorded a total of 573 early pregnancies while 208 girls and 113 boys got married.
This was revealed on Wednesday during the meeting organized by the District Education Network (DEN) which brought together various governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), political and religious leaders to scrutinize and develop a road map to curb further hiking of figures.
However, District Education Network Chairperson Clifford Kachali said they were concerned with the report of increasing figures of primary school going boys and girls engaging in early marriages and getting pregnancies amid a short period, hence the meeting.
"The figures are showing that Kasungu has been hit hard with the effects of COVID-19 pandemic and it is shocking. We called the meeting to collectively come up with a road map since early pregnancies and marriages are becoming a pandemic which needs collective efforts to deal with," Kachali said.
Meanwhile, Chairperson for Kasungu District COVID-19 response committee Jones Banda said the district has staged a number of plans to ensure that during the implementation of efforts to deal with increased cases of early marriages and pregnancies, the team working on the ground and the victims remain safe from contracting the virus.
"So, we want to drill community structures like mother groups, religious leaders as well as chiefs to help sensitize young people on the dangers of the vice and at the same time they remain safe," Banda said.
The meeting has seen various public departments, NGOs, CSOs collectively developing a work plan and approaches to be considered in the fight against early marriages and pregnancies in the district.
The gathering has among others agreed to revamp youth friendly services and clubs, enforcing child protection laws and capacitating mother groups.