Besides Covid-19, wars, and hunger problems, there is one more global problem that’s itching around is pregnancies in teenagers. About an estimation, more than 21 million girls in developing countries attain pregnancies during the age of 15–19 years. More than 12 million of them give birth to their child every year, and the rest of them abort it.
Attaining pregnancies at such early ages put the mothers at health risk and stakes their future. Likewise, if any teenage girl gets pregnant, they eventually drop out of school in most cases. And taking such steps limits their future economic opportunities.
During 2018-2019 there was a steep increase in the rate of teenage pregnancies in South Africa. And now, most recently is recorded during the time of the Covid-19 pandemic. The primary reason for the increase of pregnancy during the pandemic is likely to be difficulty getting protection.
Also, for this vulnerable age group, access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services is often challenging.
Causes of teenage pregnancies
If we go through the pre-pandemic records, then 16% of South African girls between 15-19 years went through pregnancies.
And one of the causes of this happening is the violence on girls in South Africa.
In South Africa, almost one in the three women goes through gender inequality and violence. In contrast, most girls get sexually abused under the age of 18. Which is just pathetic.
But the violence is not the only factor that causes teenage pregnancies in South Africa. The lacking of the health system of South Africa also contributes equally to this. It’s pretty hard for the youths to get the protections and the medicines of birth control in the country. Also, the health services present in South Africa are not youth-friendly.
Sex Education is also improper in the country.
More than 31% of girls in the 15-19 years age group don’t get contraceptives.
If these are not get considered, then the problem remains the same even after the pandemic.
According to the first survey during 2017 and 2018 in 6 districts across five provinces in South Africa.
4,425 adolescent girls and women between the age of 15 to 24 years of that town were part of it.
In addition, a second survey was also studied during the Covid pandemic time in 2020-2021. It was consist of 515 adolescent girls.
After the analysis of both these studies, the highest rate of pregnancies is happening in this group. In which 70% of the pregnancies were unwanted.
9% of them had had sex before the age of 15. And 36.2% of them attained pregnancies before the age of 18.
Misinformation and Barriers on Pregnancies
Many young women don’t use contraception in the misbelief that it will ruin their wombs. They think if they take contraception, they will never be able to have babies in the future. Many people don’t let them use contraceptives, even their family also.
According to a survey, only 28% of the girls only used contraceptives consistently.
Many reasons result from stock-outs at the health service, side effects of the medicines, inconvenient health services, and the pandemic.
Last year around 22% of the girls weren’t able to get the condoms.
School-based interventions can help to prevent sexual violence and raise awareness about Sex- Education.
Education campaigns need to clear the misconception about contraceptives.
Free contraceptives should also be available in all public places. And it should be present in the hygiene place. Health workers should guide the girls about the contraceptives accordingly.
This all can lead to the more significant step of avoiding such a global problem at some level.