Kitgum government hospital is overwhelmed by the high number of underage girls seeking maternity and antenatal health services. Health workers blame the vice on defilement.
Sr. Rose Mary Ayaa, the Senior Nursing Officer in charge of supervision of midwifery and nursing at the hospital reveals that over 60 percent of deliveries carried at the facility on a monthly basis are cases of girls aged between 15 and 17 years.
Sr. Ayaa says peer influence and failure by parents to raise their children proper is to blame. She also notes that some of the girls are married off due to poverty.
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On average, about four girls in Kitgum drop out of in each of the 91 government aided schools annually. Vinansio Odongkene, the Head teacher Kalabong P.7 School in Namukora sub-county, says already four teenage girls have already been married off in his school this term.
Odongkene attributes the dilemma of school drop out to elopement and early pregnancy during the long festive holiday. He notes that concerned community members have reported the matter to authorities but their efforts to trace the girls have been frustrated by parents who are hesitant to talk on the matter.
Recently, Lydia Wanyoto, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Women League Chairperson urged local and cultural leaders to embark on massive sensitization campaigns to help young girls to avoid early pregnancies.
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She was speaking at the handover over Mama Kits and sanitation equipment to mothers at Kitgum hospital during the 38 Tarehe Sita anniversary celebrations.
The Police annual crime report – 2017 indicates that Gulu was third in the country with 286 cases of defilement after Lira (389 cases) and Mbale (350 cases). Regionally, Aswa River region recorded 1,000 defilement cases after North Kyoga (1,302), Elgon (1,135) and Bukedi (1,050) among others.
Ochola's journalism career begun from Radio King 90.2 FM in Gulu around 2009, and Radio Rupiny 95.7 Fm under Vision Group in 2012. He also reported for Mighty Fire 91.5 Fm, Kitgum in 2015 before joining Wizarts Foundation in 2017.
He has been reporting for Uganda Radio Network (URN) since 2017 before being posted as Bureau Chief Kitgum, and latr Gulu between 2018 - 2021. Currently, he reports from Parliament.