Teen pregnancy figures drop

2012-06-23 07:42

 It appears that campaigns against teenage pregnancy in South Africa are starting to bear fruit.

The latest official statistics from the department of health show the teenage pregnancy rate decreased by 13.2% between 2009 and 2010.

In 2009, nearly 80 000 girls younger than 18 fell pregnant. In 2010, the figure was just above 70 000.

But one of the organisations spearheading campaigns against teenage pregnancy, the Junior Doctors Association, believes the figures are still too high.

The association launched its campaign in 2010.

Dr Kalli Spencer, who heads the association’s campaign, said: “Our target is to have zero teenage pregnancies.”

“No child should have a child of their own,” Spencer said.

The association doesn’t want to take all the credit for the lower figures.

But, Spencer said: “From anecdotal evidence I can confidently say the campaign has made a difference to some extent.”

“In some of the schools we have visited as part of the campaign, the rate of teenage pregnancy has come down,” Spencer said.

KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Limpopo have the country’s highest teenage pregnancy rates.

KwaZulu-Natal recorded the highest number of teen pregnancies in 2010 – 16 910.

But, it was also the only province to record a 30% decrease in teen pregnancies during the same period.

The province’s MEC for Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, said: “Cross-generation sex is the main driver behind high teenage pregnancy in KwaZulu-Natal. If we want to reduce HIV infection and teenage pregnancy we have to create awareness about the dangers of cross-generation sex.”

“The department has introduced a number of interventions to try and reduce the rate of teenage pregnancy in the province,” Dhlomo said.

“One of those interventions was the campaign against sugar daddies.”

Several studies have shown that inter-generational relationships contribute to high teenage pregnancy and HIV infection rates among young girls.

The latest annual antenatal survey released in December last year highlighted the role of sugar daddies in the spread of HIV among young girls.

It found that girls as young as 10 were pregnant and HIV positive.

Two thirds of all girls who participated in the survey reported that they had older partners.

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