With Child Protection Week coming to an end this weekend, roleplayers have again called on Government to urgently intervene to address the rapid increase in pregnancies recorded among teenage girls.

In 2020 alone, more than 35,000 teenage girls, aged 17 years and younger, give birth in South Africa.

National Executive Director at Child Welfare SA, Dr. Benny Obayi says this is not a new phenomenon in South Africa.

He says what is of concern is the marked increase in teenage pregnancies that have been recorded over the past 2 years.

Obayi says teenage pregnancies have seen a worrying increase since the implementation of the nationwide Covid-19 lockdowns.

He urges the Government to ramp up sex education at schools to help young people make better sexual-health decisions.

Obayi also says the lack of access to social and academic activities during the lockdown has led young people to experiment with sex.

He says being pregnant not only holds physical dangers for teenage mothers but also has other long-term impacts on their social welfare.

Get the latest updates from Child Welfare South Africa here.

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The World Health Organization says it is especially women on the African continent that have been severely negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

New research shows that up to 40% of African countries have reported continued disruptions to sexual, reproductive, maternal, and child & adolescent health services, since the onset of the pandemic.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti says with International Women’s Day being celebrated today, it is important that governments improve their interventions to counteract these negative effects.

Moeti says teenage pregnancies and incidences of gender-based violence have also increased.

Read Moeti’s full statement here.

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The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has launched its Prevention and Management of Learner Pregnancy in Schools initiative.

The initiative aims to ensure that young mothers have access to much-needed support services.

It is also focused on addressing the high incidence of learner pregnancy and the drop-out that usually follows.

The policy also requires schools to report to the police when a pregnant learner is under the age of 16.

UNESCO National Programme Officer, at the DBE, Buyiswa Mpini.

View the online launch of the initiative here.

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