At least 5,265 girls of between 10 and 19 years were impregnated and have dropped out of school in Butaleja District from 2019 to 2020, a new survey has revealed.
The survey, which was conducted by Butaleja District Health Office in all health centres, found out that at different sub-counties, 2,601 learners were impregnated in 2019 while 2,664 were affected in 2020.
Findings from the survey indicate that of the 5,265 impregnated girls, only 3,596 attended antenatal cares.
The most affected sub-county is Busolwe Town Council with 650 teenage deliveries in 2019 and 595 in 2020.
The findings were revealed by the district health officials during a dialogue organised by the Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum (UYAHF), a non-governmental organization, at City Resort Hotel in Butaleja District on Wednesday.
The dialogue was held under the theme: “Increasing investments in rights-based youth-friendly Sexual Reproductive Health (SRHR) services to reduce maternal mortalities and morbidities, resulting from teenage pregnancies and unsafe abortions”.
Leaders and other stakeholders said there is an urgent need to to reduce the increasing pregnancies.
Data obtained from UYAHF indicates that Butaleja is among the districts with very poor sexual reproductive health indicators. According to Uganda Demographic and Health Survey 2016, Butaleja has a higher teenage pregnancy burden with almost 30 per cent.
The district health officer, Dr. Siraji Kizito, blamed the vice on poverty, cultural and religious beliefs, high school dropouts, peer influence, and gender-based violence.
He also blamed parents for being negligent.
“These girls are giving birth when they are still very young. The perpetrators are boda boda riders and businessmen who convince them into sex by offering small gifts. Some parents also tend to give away their young daughters at an early age because of dowry,”Dr Kizito said.
He said lack of sexual reproductive health information has worsened the situation.
“They need health education, especially on family planning and reproductive health. This is one of the ways to fight the vice,” Dr Kizito.
Ms Joyce Mugaba, a 16-year-old victim of early pregnancy, said: “I nearly died while giving birth due to maternal bleeding and poverty because I had no money to get good medications.”
Ms Rita Asiimwe, the manager of Justice Centre in Tororo, said: “Some cases of defilement don’t reach court and for the few that court handles, the complaints don’t turn up. Parents lose interest in the cases after receiving tokens from the perpetrators.”
Mr Patrick Mwesigye, the director of UYAHF, said high fertility rate is also posing planning challenges.
The fertility rate in the district stands at 8.1 per cent far above the national average of 5.4 per cent.
He said of 100 mothers who give birth in the district, 30 per cent are teenagers.
The Police Crime Report indicates that Uganda registered 13,613 defilement cases in 2019. Of those, 13,682 were children with 13,441 being females. Defilements were highest in the region of East Kyoga with 945 cases, followed by Elgon with 922 cases.