The Gauteng health department has raised concerns about the escalating number of childhood pregnancy in the province, prompting a call for collaborative efforts to address this societal issue. The alert comes in the wake of a visit by MEC for health and wellness, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, to three township schools in Ekurhuleni, namely Nkumbulo Secondary School, Zimisele High, and Langaville Secondary School.
Expressing her disappointment with the high incidence of pregnancies among teenagers, Nkomo-Ralehoko emphasized that childhood pregnancy is not solely a health concern but a broader societal problem. The Gauteng health department reported that over 13,700 babies were born to teen mothers in the province in the current financial year.
In response to the growing challenge, the Gauteng health department has established Youth Zones within selected health facilities, providing safe spaces with youth-oriented services. These zones, staffed by young healthcare workers, aim to address health issues affecting both young males and females.
Nkomo-Ralehoko stated, “The challenge of childhood8 pregnancy is a societal one and requires a transdisciplinary and collective approach. All sectors of society must play an active role in addressing this pandemic effectively.” She urged citizens to join hands with the government in empowering learners with information to make informed decisions without jeopardizing their future.
To combat the rising numbers of childhood pregnancies, the department has partnered with organizations such as Love Life, Wits RHI, Shout it Now, Anova, Soul City, Triggerise, Mobile Health Clinics, and #KeReady to promote health education among learners and youth.
The Gauteng health department is committed to close cooperation with departments such as social development and basic education, along with multiple stakeholders, to intensify efforts against the scourge of childhood pregnancy this year.
However, the problem of childhood pregnancy is complicated by various factors, including fathers abandoning their children. Some young mothers pointed to poverty in single-parent households as contributing to the challenges they face.
As the department forges partnerships and implements youth-focused initiatives, the voices of these young mothers shed light on the personal struggles they endure. Amidst these challenges, their resilience and determination to pursue education and dreams offer a glimpse into the complexities surrounding childhood pregnancies in Gauteng.