The state minister for Primary Health Care, Sarah Opendi, has urged girls to avoid early sexual activity, but admitted that society must admit that it happens.
Announcing a national campaign to prevent teenage pregnancies recently, Opendi said teenage pregnancies were responsible for nearly a quarter of the 6,000 women who die annually from pregnancy-related complications.
“We discourage early engagement in sex but unfortunately it is happening. These sexually-active young girls, who we shall not have control over and [who] will not take our messages seriously, should go to health facilities and get contraceptives so that they can avoid early pregnancies,” Opendi said.
The minister added: “These alarming rates of teenage pregnancies are a major cause of concern and are a threat to national development.”
Teenage mothers are at a higher risk of complications and disabilities, including obstructed labour, fistula, high blood pressure, low birth weight and still births.
“These complications arise because the young girls’ reproductive systems are not fully developed to handle the consequences that come with delivery. When delivery time comes, there will be prolonged or obstructed labour,” said Alex Craig Kiwanuka, a youth officer at Reproductive Health Uganda.
“This usually leads to the death of the baby and the puncturing of the mother’s reproductive system and anal areas [fistula], which is one of the commonest complications young mothers suffer.”
The 12-month campaign, under the theme “Let girls be girls”, was launched in Butaleja on Sunday.
Source : The Observer