Teenagers march in Kariega for better sexual and reproductive health services

Partners in Sexual Health director says while government has made some progress, the challenge is in the implementation of its policies

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Teenagers led by members of Partners in Sexual Health marched in Kariega on Tuesday to demand that the government implement policies to reduce teenage pregnancies. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

About 100 teenagers marched through Kariega’s city centre on Tuesday to demand government action against teenage pregnancy. The marchers, some dressed in school uniform, were supported by members of Partners in Sexual Health (PSH).

“Put a spotlight on teenage pregnancy now because we have been spectators for far too long,” shouted Siya Jonas who led the march down Market Street to the Uitenhage Town hall. The marchers were complaining about a lack of political support for safe and friendly sexual and reproductive health services for teenagers across the country.

In a statement Partners in Sexual Health quoted StatsSA which noted that over 90,000 girls aged ten to 19 gave birth between March 2021 to April 2022.

According to founder Patsy de Lora, “The rate of adolescent pregnancies in South Africa is alarmingly high. The South African government has made some progress in putting in place strategies and policies around teenage pregnancy. However, the challenge is in the implementation of those strategies and policies.”

Marchers sang songs in Kariega city centre and carried placards that read: “End sexual and gender-based violence”, “More youth friendly clinics” and “My body, my choice.”

Khanyisa White, 24, a PSH health promoter from KwaLanga, said she is one of 80 health promoters working in the township and in KwaNobuhle.

She said they urged teenagers to use condoms or practise abstinence to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. “We talk to teenagers on the street corners and at schools, and they tell us that they hate condoms. I always urge them to practise family planning and use condoms or refrain from sexual activities,” she said.

The marchers’ memorandum was accepted by the City’s sub-district’s health coordinator, Nomvuyiseko Maqokolo, and ward 47 councillor, Lungile Langbooi.

Eastern Cape Health spokesperson Yonela Dekeda said the department aimed to provide comprehensive sexual reproductive health services. “The department launched Youth Zones in health facilities around the province to create services with a youth friendly environment. These facilities provide dedicated time, space and health professionals for young people and make appropriate health services easily accessible to the youth.”

Dekeda said, “Empowering our youth to plan their pregnancies is an important life skill. We provide comprehensive integrated school health services and link schools with partner NGOs.”

TOPICS:  Health

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