Adolescent pregnancy in Zambia.

Adolescence is a period of preparing for adulthood during which most individuals undergo several key developments in their lives. For instance during adolescence, both male and female children undergo physical and sexual maturation, they feel the need of social and economic independence and the acquisition of a skill; and this is also the time they develop an identity for themselves.

Hence, thus it the period whereas guardians, teachers and church leaders should be wary of. They should be able to give support and assistance to the boys and girls in this crucial stage of life by helping them to navigate safely into adulthood.

However, in Zambia, the rate at which adolescent pregnancy is increasing year by year is highly alarming and an indicator that we have a huge challenge to curb in the country.

Studies conducted in the past years have shown that the rate of teenage pregnancies keeps escalating especially in Eastern Zambia despite stakeholders’ efforts to curb the vice.

Consequently, the issue may need to be tackled from the roots rather than the branches which is teenage pregnancy. In other words, the vice is just an outcome of challenges that remains unresolved.
Allow me to take you through some of the determinants of adolescent pregnancy.

Lack of access to appropriate sexual and reproductive health information

It has been discovered that there is lack of sensitization’ of sexual and reproductive health information among adolescents especially those as young as 13 and 14.
Often times guardians feel their children are still young to be taught about sexual and reproductive health. Hence, information on the topic is often learnt at school from peers who are likely to be oblivious to the truth and share misleading information. Parents and guardians watch out for your girl and boy child when they reach puberty as this is the most crucial stage for them. Teach them and help them grow well. Do not let them source for information from friends or the internet; these sources could be highly misleading.

Poverty which often leads girls into relationships marked by sexual favors.

This one is very common among girls in high school. Itis now being referred to as the blesser/blesser culture whereas an older man gifts money, goods and services to teenage girls in exchange for sex. Poverty and envy is leading many girls astray and it is at this point that I will advise guardians to train your children to be content with what you have to offer as a parent and encourage them to work hard in school and attain success so that they can live the life they want to live later in life. Young girl or boy, content with what you have and move on, working hard, step by step to achieve the success that will help you live the luxurious life you dream of. Blessers will only bring you pain and heartache that is greater than poverty. Being poor should encourage you to change your life for the better, not lead you to mischief.

Social and cultural determinants

These factors definitely include gender inequalities whereas women and girls are perceived to bea weaker s x and preyed on by sexual predators. Another social and economic determinant is child marriages. Believe it or not, there are still people who give their young children to older men for marriage. Some do it to follow old customs and traditions while others simply sell their children for material or monetary gain and another factor is peer pressure; the ‘everyone is doing it’ generation.
These social and economic drivers of teenage pregnancies need to be curbed as they are one of the leading causes of adolescent pregnancies.

Lack of adequate information and education on sex and sexuality in schools, churches and homes.

Lack of opportunities to get an education especially in rural areas. Government and stakeholders shi ensure that all rural areas are filled with well equipped school and capable tutors.

The above factors should be taken seriously and curbed in that they may cause teenage pregnancy rates to continue increasing while having tremendous effects on the children.
Some of these effects include the following:

Reduced girls’ opportunities to attain an education in that pregnant girls usually drop out of school earlier or later for delivery and a few come back to continue learning and this has contributed to the increased level of poverty among women and girls in the country.

  • Reduced girls’ opportunities to attain an education in that pregnant girls usually drop out of school earlier or later for delivery and a few come back to continue learning and this has contributed to the increased level of poverty among women and girls in the country.
  • Psychological stress on pregnant adolescents which can result into acts such as abortion (usually unsafe abortions), severe pregnancy complications and death.
  • Exposure to STIs, HIV/AIDS, HPV and cervical cancer.
  • Complications on Babies born to young mothers like poor health, low birth weight, stunting and increased infant mortality.

Therefore, solving the challenge of adolescent pregnancies can only be done if we work on curbing the determinants or causes of the vice in the first place. Otherwise the number of young girls falling pregnant will continue to raise and raise complications for communities they live in and the country at large. It is the duty of every parent, teacher, church leader and the child themselves to take the lead and help eradicate this challenge in our country.

I hope for the best outcomes, following this article.


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