Social Development organizes roundtables on the prevention of teenage pregnancies

The Ministry of Social Development begins its roundtables to prevent teenage pregnancies

The Ministry of Social Development has started its round tables across the country to strengthen the existing child protection system to prevent teenage pregnancies. The discussions which have started in Lusikisiki, Ingquza Hill District Municipality, aim to target the districts which have recorded the highest number of teenage pregnancies over the past two years in the four provinces, namely KwaZulu-Natal , Gauteng, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape. Statistics South Africa has revealed that the country recorded 34,587 adolescent girls who gave birth in the 2020/21 financial year.

Acting Chief Director of Child Protection in the department, Mrs. Neliswa Cekiso, said that as a department responsible for caring and protecting children, the high number of teenage pregnancies should be a source of concern. “Teen pregnancy is a multi-faceted problem that requires holistic intervention,” Cekiso said.

Attended by representatives from the Ministries of Social Development, Health, Basic Education, SAPS and traditional leaders, among others, the roundtable agreed that there was a need for a holistic approach to addressing the challenge of teenage pregnancy.

Mrs. Cekiso revealed at the meeting that in 2019 in KZN there were 671 deliveries of children aged 10-14 and 661 deliveries in 2020. In the Eastern Cape in 2019 there were 671 deliveries among 10-14 year olds and in 2020, there were 661 deliveries. 15-19 year olds recorded 17,211 in 2019 from the Eastern Cape and 17,740 in 2020.

Noluthando Gwiji from the Eastern Cape Ministry of Health said there are continued interventions and campaigns by the Ministry of Health but the numbers are not going down which should be a serious concern for the country.

“There are times at Holy Cross Hospital in Flagstaff where 80% of deliveries are performed by children,” Gwiji said worriedly.

Cekiso also said that Section 110 of the Children’s Act, 38 of 2005, provides for the reporting of suspected cases of abuse for the purpose of triggering an immediate response and action to help a child whose life is in danger.

Ms. Cekiso further stressed that abuse reported daily by a child to a mandatory or non-mandatory adult, whether it happened a long time ago or recently, should be taken seriously and, above all, reported to the police or the Ministry of Social Development.

“We all have an obligation, as communities, parents, caregivers, teachers, medical professionals, to report suspected cases of child abuse,” Cekiso said.

To ensure targeted interventions for affected pregnant children, the National Department of Social Development has instructed provincial departments to profile and assess children so that adequate services can be provided, including investigation and referral. to the South African Police Service (SAPS) in statutory rape cases. The Ministry has also communicated with the Directors General of Health and Basic Education so that at the national level, current policies and programs can be evaluated and improved. The Department of Basic Education launched its policy for the prevention and management of pregnancy among learners in schools on February 17 in the North West.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), teenage pregnancy is a global problem but most often occurs in the poorest and most marginalized communities. Many girls are under considerable pressure to marry early and become mothers when they are young.

The Department will continue the round tables at KZN in March.

Joel C. Hicks