Health stakeholders in Narok County have called for concerted efforts to reduce teenage pregnancies in the region.
The county tops in the cases by 40 percent, surpassing the national prevalence of 18 percent.
The rampant teenage pregnancy among the pastoral Maasai community is attributed to poverty, illiteracy and socio-cultural practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early marriages.
The county also leads in infant, maternal and child mortality rates according to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS)
The revelations came out at a forum on reproductive health organised by the United States International Development agency (USAID), Population Reference Bureau (PRB) and the Kenya Editor’s Guild that brought together women political leaders and influential community women.
The forum was held at a Narok hotel on Thursday.
Ms. Angela Siparo an officer at PRB said use of Family Planning was directly correlated with literacy levels with the use increasing in the educated women and a decline among the majority illiterates in the county.
Narok is badly off on teenage pregnancies and we should not keep quiet about it. We have initiated awareness on Family Planning methods where we intend to ensure that girls know the right time to get pregnant, number of children and at what interval, said Siparo.
The USAID Representative, Ms. Shila Macharia rooted for inclusion of the boy child in the fight against teenage pregnancies.
Women political leaders led by the incumbent Woman Representative, Ms Soipan Kudate (Jubilee) and her rivals, Ms. Rebecca Tonkei (ODM) and Ms. Lydia Ntimama (Chama Cha Mashinani) were challenged on measures they will take to curb the reproductive challenges in the county.
Kudate said she has initiated various economic empowerment programmes for women in the county, saying women in the pastoral community were the most affected by poverty.
These issues of teenage pregnancies and FGM is ‘not news’ as they have been with us all along. This war cannot be won by a single person that is why we want a combined effort with non-state actors to reduce it, said Kudate.
She also blamed cultural believes for ignorance on sexual matters, saying being a conservative community, speaking about sex was a taboo.
We need to improve on our socialism. In our culture, rarely does one find a girl and her mother sitting down to discuss matters pertaining to sex and these are areas we need to improve on, said Kudate.
Ms. Tonkei promised to initiate programmes that will help in informing girls in the county and empower women economically when voted in office.
Ms. Ntimama pledged to address the matter by ensuring all culprits of defilement were brought to book.
Source: Kenya News Agency