•Kenya joined the rest of the world on Monday in commemorating the 2022 World Population Day.
•World Population Day seeks to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues
Health experts are now calling for targeted interventions at the sub-national level to counter teenage pregnancies after data showed the burden varies from county to county.
Ten in every 100 adolescent girls aged between 15 and 19 years have given birth to either one or more children.
Kenya is among African countries struggling with the triple threat of new HIV infections, gender-based violence and pregnancy among adolescents.
Close to half of the counties are recording higher percentages of adolescent pregnancies than the national average.
For instance, Samburu, Migori, Narok, Mandera and West Pokot are the five leading counties in terms of teens who have given birth as per the data.
The five have recorded 18, 17.9, 17.5, 16.8 and 16.7 per cent respectively.
This means for instance that 18 in every 100 girls aged between 15 and 19 in Samburu had given birth to one or more children.
Nyeri, Nyandarua, Makueni, Kiambu and Machakos have the lowest prevalence at 4.2, 5.3, 5.3, 5.7 and 6.4 per cent respectively.
Experts are further calling on the need to increase advocacy on population programmes, enhance reproductive health information to improve knowledge among adolescents.
They also advocate for an accelarated fight against traditional social norms that encourage harmful practices such as female genital mutilation.
Kenya joined the rest of the world on Monday in commemorating the 2022 World Population Day.
World Population Day seeks to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues.
This year’s theme is ‘End GBV, new HIV infection and pregnancy among adolescents for a resilient future.’
The day was established by the then-Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme in 1989, an outgrowth of the interest generated by the Day of Five Billion, which was observed on July 11, 1987.
Experts now warn that the triple threat if unchecked could severely undermine the abilities of young people to realise their full potential.
The three issues are often interlinked. For example, GBV of a sexual nature can lead to HIV infection and pregnancy.
While HIV infection can result in partner conflict and GBV. A sexual encounter can result in all three threats.
According to the report, even though Kenya made strides in the last decade toward reducing new HIV infections from 101,560 in 2013 to 32,027 in 2021, the concern now is that most of the new infections are being reported among adolescents and young people.
In 2020, adolescents and young people between 15 and 24 years accounted for 42 per cent of the new cases.
Nairobi, Homa Bay, Uasin Gishu and Meru counties registered the highest numbers.
On the other hand, data collected from health facilities across the country shows a three-fold increase in SGBV cases between 2018 and 2021 among adolescents aged between 10 to 17.
This has been partially attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic containment measures such as restricted movement that saw teens confined with their abusers.
“Looking at the past population trends across the world, we have made remarkable progress and still there is work ahead,” the National Council for Population Development director general Mohammed Sheikh said.
More than three-quarters of the cases were reported in 15 counties with Kisumu, Nairobi and Kilifi leading in the number of cases reported.
According to data, 5,587 SGBV cases among adolescents aged between 10 and 17 were reported in 2018, 7,293 in 2019, 11,465 in 2020 with the country recording a record high of 16,635 in 2021.
According to Treasury CS Ukur Yatani, there is a need for the country to harness the opportunities available to improve the quality of life and address the changing needs of the various population segments.
“Though much progress has been made in protecting and empowering women and girls in the country, they still face numerous challenges including adolescent and unintended pregnancies, GBV and HIV infections,” Yatani said.
(Edited by Tabnacha O)