National library rolls out programme to curb teenage pregnancies

Teenagers meeting at Nakuru Library during a reproductive health training to sensitize them to curb the increase of teenage pregnancies in the county.Picture:Ben Ali
Teenagers meeting at Nakuru Library during a reproductive health training to sensitize them to curb the increase of teenage pregnancies in the county.Picture:Ben Ali

The Kenya National Library Services (KNLS), Nakuru County branch is training adolescents on reproductive health to curb the increase on teenage pregnancies.

Ministry of Health data shows Njoro has the highest number of teenage pregnancies at 1,221, Kuresoi South 905, Naivasha 829 (6), Nakuru East 701, Nakuru West 931 and Molo with 721 cases.

The training is done by library staff in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Department of Reproductive Health and Marie Stopes Kenya.

According to Purity Mutoko who is in charge of the Kenya National Library Services, the programme was started at the library last month and has registered great success.

“The programme is aimed at bridging the gap in our education sector that does not cover reproductive health and sex at great length,” said Mutoko.

She pointed out that the programme will be enrolled in respective primary and secondary schools in the county.

Kenya Demographic Health Survey shows that teenage pregnancies stood at 18 percent in 2008-2009 in the county, a number that increased to 18.4 percent in 2014.

Mutoko noted that parents do not talk to their children about reproductive health, an issue that contributes to unsafe sex, early pregnancies and unsafe abortions reported among teenagers.

Information

“Majority of teenagers resort to unprotected sex and drug abuse due to lack of information about reproductive health which affects their growth and behavioural change,” she said.

The programme targets all learners who attend the library and fall under the age bracket of between 13 and 19 years.

Mutoko noted that so far, at least 50 learners have enrolled for the programme that is offered during week days and holidays.

Mutoko says she took advantage of the high turnout at the library to introduce the programme that will later be enrolled in schools.

Several primary and secondary schools have also been selected in the pilot programme in the cosmopolitan county.

“Education stakeholders have discovered that during holiday and weekends, most learners are idle and that is why we have taken advantage to take them through the programme at the library,” Mutoko explained.

Peer pressure

She notes that from the interactions peer pressure in schools has highly contributed to cases of lesbianism and homosexuality more so for those in Form Two.

She said some of the teenage girls are lured into sexual relationships by adults who give them gifts and more so smart phones.

“Teenagers informed us that they learn sex from their peers in school, and they are, therefore, forced to practice it,” explained Mutoko.

Nakuru County Reproductive Health Coordinator in the Ministry of Health Jessica Mungau said lack of information on reproductive health among teenagers result in early pregnancies and increased cases of school dropouts.

Mungau said the programme at the Library is relevant and will assist teenagers come up with informed decision on reproductive health and safe sex.

She noted that majority of parents leave teachers to inform their children on matters reproductive health although there is very limited time to discuss such issues.

In schools teachers mostly concentrate on academic performance of learners and helping them improve on their weaker subjects.

“Parents trust teachers to nurture their children but unfortunately they are not able to provide the best because they also have challenges of balancing between academic and behaviour change,” said Mungau.

Access

When teenagers get pregnant, they do not attend ante-natal clinic for lack of information and most of them opt for unsafe abortion.

Mungau noted that under the program, teenagers are also trained on drugs and substance abuse, an issue that has highly contributed to unsafe sex.

Most teenagers she said are wooed into sexuality after being induced with drugs and illicit brew, and whenever they discover they are pregnant, they opt for abortion.

Mungau reiterated that addressing adolescent sexual and reproductive health needs should be accorded priority in the county.

“Some teenagers are wooed to sexual behaviours through use of drugs and this is why it is important to create awareness among teenagers on the importance of avoiding drugs and substance abuse,” Mungau said.

She noted that although there are still gaps in understanding adolescents’ health needs, systematic reviews including comprehensive school based education, out of facility approaches, increasing access to acceptable services will result into safe sex and reduce pregnancies among teenagers.

The county launched Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal and Adolescent (RMNAH) Framework early this year to provide direction for the coordination, implementation, monitoring and evaluation on reproductive health.

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