Thursday 14 October 2021
Reports from the Gauteng Department of Health revealed that there has been a 60% increase in teen pregnancies since the start of COVID-19.
More than 23 000 girls under 18 years of age gave birth between April 2020 and March 2021 – with 934 of these girls under 14.
Early pregnancy and motherhood forces many girls to drop out of school, trapping them in a cycle of poverty. It also creates greater risk of maternal complications and forces many girls to prematurely take on adult roles which they are not emotionally nor physically prepared for.
“There has never been a more important time to empower teenagers to take control of their sexual health and stay safe. Save the Children calls on the Government of South Africa and Gauteng province to ensure that adolescents, regardless of gender, have access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and services,” said Marumo Sekgobela, Save the Children Health and Nutrition Thematic Manager.
Unintended pregnancy among adolescents requires holistic approaches that build girls’ empowerment, helps them make decisions about their lives – including around sexual and reproductive health – engages the support of the men and boys in their lives, and offers them real opportunities so that motherhood is not seen as their only destiny.
A key factor contributing to the reproductive health risks of South Africa’s adolescents is lack of access to Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) – as well as a lack of access to affordable, appropriate health services. Save the Children is working hard to address these challenges.