At least 3,925 teenage girls in Agago
district have been impregnated in the last one year, statistics from the
District Health Department has revealed.
A report released Monday shows that 3,925 out of 19,503 expectant mothers who visited various health
facilities for antennal care services-ANC between 2020 to August 2021 were girls of 18 years and below.
The report compiled from 17 different health
facilities puts the average teenage pregnancy cases in the district at 20 percent against
the national average of 24 percent.
cases have been high in the sub-counties of Omot (353 teenage pregnancy cases), Arum
(330 cases), Lira Palwo (322 cases), Wol (341 cases), and Kalongo Town Council
(405 cases of teenage pregnancies).
Paska Adong, the Agago Senior Community
Development Officer and Gender Focal Person attributes the growing trend of teenage pregnancy to limited parental care among families.
Adong says some family
heads have neglected their roles in taking care of their children as they spend
much of their time in bars drinking alcohol during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) induced lockdown.
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Paska also notes that growing
cases of Gender-based violence-GBV that have led to the separation of couples have
left young children especially girls vulnerable to sex abuse and early marriage to older men.
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The District Chairperson, Leonard
Opio Ojok, says the trend is worrying and notes that it's high time the leaders
should walk the talk on ending teenage pregnancy and teen marriage.
He says the district will be
working closely with school headteachers once primary and secondary schools
reopen next year to identify girls who didn’t report back to school adding that
their parents will be tasked to explain the circumstances.
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Suzan Akany, the Agago Resident
District Commissioner has called on parents to play their parental responsibilities
in curbing cases of teenage pregnancy. She also advocates for the strengthening
of bylaws within the community to hold accountable perpetrators of
sexual abuse on teenage girls.
In September this year, cultural
leaders in the region raised concerns over the growing trend of teenage pregnancy
and early marriage and particularly faulted parents for lowering their guards
in monitoring the lifestyles of their children.
The Acholi Paramount Chief Rwot
David Onen Acana II while addressing the media in Kitgum Municipality at the
time said children became vulnerable during the COVID-19 lockdown as parents had
abdicated their parental roles to teachers.