Malawi Teenage Pregnancy Rates Rise Over School Closures

By Nyasa Times

Education authorities in Mangochi are baffled that 7, 274 teenage girls in the district have become pregnant since the school closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Youth Friendly Health Services Coordinator for the district Peter Malipa, the figure is higher by 1000 girls compared to girls who became pregnant similar period last year.

teenagersMalipa said 166 of the girls are aged between 10 to 14.

In Phalombe, 1000 girls are pregnant, in Mzimba 400 and in Nsanje 324 girls all during the COVID-19 mandatory holiday.

Schools have remained closed since March 23 when the government declared a National Disaster.

Officials at the Ministry of Education said they are meeting stakeholders this week over the shocking revelations of the schoolgirl pregnancies.

 The Malawian government announced the closure of all schools on March 20, even before a single coronavirus case had been reported in the landlocked country.

However, over the past four months, infections have surged with a total of 3,664 cases registered so far, including 99 deaths.

Civil Society Coalition on Education director Benedicto Kondowe said the virus pandemic has fundamentally changed the course of young women’s lives.

Kondowe said increases in gender-based violence, exploitation and other forms of abuse against adolescent girls had also been noted.

In an interview with local radio station Capital Radio, the district education officer for Nsanje, Gelston Alindiamawo, said Monday that over 300 girls in the district were nursing unwanted pregnancies since schools closed.

Alindiamawo blamed parents and guardians for failing to provide proper guidance to their children during the period in which they have been out of school.

Source: Nyasa Times

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