Bombali District tops teenage pregnancy


July 13, 2015 By Jariatu S. Bangura

As members of the Parliamentary Committee on Social Services last week concluded a four-day tour of Bo, Kenema and Makeni districts, it was disclosed that Bombali tops the rate of teenage pregnancy among girls below 18.

The tour, according to members, was to reach out to girls, teachers and schools authorities as part of their contribution to raise awareness to reduce early marriage and teenage pregnancy, and to stop stigmatisation of Ebola survivors.

Schools visited include Queen of Rosary and St. Andrews Secondary in Bo, Islamic Secondary and Ahmadiyya Secondary in Kenema, and Birch Memorial and St. Joseph’s Secondary in Makeni.

According to Regional Coordinator in the Ministry of Social Welfare, Madam Josephine Saccoh, prior to the outbreak of Ebola, a survey revealed that 470 girls in six chiefdoms in Bombali District were pregnant, while during the Ebola period, the number has increased to 540.

She said that although they were ‘marginalised’ by the Ministry of Health in participating in Ebola sensitizations in the district, they helped in the fight thanks to funds provided by the council. She revealed that a six-month sensitisation project has since rolled out in the district and that on June 16 this year the message to children nationwide was ‘End Early Marriage’.

Chairperson of the committee, Hon. Emma Josephine Kowa, expressed dissatisfaction over the high increase in teenage pregnancy in Bombali, more than doubling figures recorded in both Bo and Kenema districts.

“As a committee we care about our girls and we want to put a stop to teenage pregnancy, especially those in the remote villages where radio messages cannot be heard, neither do they benefit from the forum you have been conducting here,” said Hon. Kowa. “A lot of funds have been put into these forums and sensitisation yet there is increase in the number [of teenagers getting pregnant] as it is becoming a panic for girls in society; and we must eradicate it.”

Members lamented that despite several forums to address the social challenge, the target of reducing teenage pregnancy remains a dream as more girls, especially those in the northern region, continue to drop out of school as a result of teenage pregnancy.

One of the MPs opined that, “Despite holding forums and meetings, if the message does not go down to the grassroots people, nothing will be successful despite the effort and money spent. To hold a meeting is one thing and for the message to reach the community people is another thing”.

Meanwhile, the pupils were excited to meet committee members and urged the need for effective sensitisation especially in the remote interior.