About 170 girls aged between 10 and 14 years in Meru County, Kenya fell pregnant between January and mid-June this year.
These are among 5,270 teenage pregnancies recorded through the Kenya Health Information System in the county. The data shows that another 5,100 pregnant girls aged between 14 and 19 years visited various hospitals in Meru County.
North Imenti Sub-County had the highest number of pregnant 10-14 year olds with 80 girls followed by South Imenti with 31.
According to the hospitals’ data, Igembe South (a sub-county of Meru) recorded the highest number of teen pregnancies at 979 followed by Igembe Central with 978 and Igembe North, 823 girls.
Others are Imenti South (587), North Imenti 440, Tigania West, 412, Central Imenti, 310, Tigania Central, 256, Buuri East, 230, Tigania East, 143 and Buuri West 112.
Last year, Meru County government in partnership with Johns Hopkins Programme for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics, a non-governmental organisation, initiated young mothers’ clubs aimed at addressing the impact of teenage pregnancies.
The initiative was aimed at eradicating stigma among teen moms, ensuring they resume education and access health care.
A report by the Ministry of Education, last year, showed that Meru was among counties with high cases of teen pregnancies.
“We have formed Young Mothers clubs at Mikinduri, Muthara, Kangeta, Nyambene and Mutuati sub county hospitals where about 100 teenagers meet for mentorship. We realised that many teenagers face rejection from parents, friends and school after they fall pregnant. This has led to some contemplating suicide,” Meru Primary health care coordinator Doris Muriuki said.
Health care coordinator Doris Muriuki also noted that three cases of attempted suicide attributed to stigma were reported in Tigania East last year.
Ms Muriuki said that the teenagers have been undergoing mentorship and counselling to enable them go back to school while others are encouraged to acquire skills.
Meru Health Executive Meshack Mutuma said the county government was engaging community health volunteers to monitor teen moms and ensure they resume normal life.
Mr Mutuma, however warned teenagers against engaging in premarital sex. He called for enhanced education among children to curb teenage pregnancies.
The Ministry of Education report indicated that 11,950 primary and secondary schools’ girls fell pregnant countrywide in 2018, with unreported cases said to be higher.