MEC’s visit to GJ Crookes hospital's New Year babies brings him face to face with the problem of teenage pregnancy
1 Jan 2011“I believe that we need to substantially reduce the rate of pregnancy among 16-19 year olds and that there are ways to achieve this goal within five to ten years” is what the Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, MEC for Health in KwaZulu-Natal, could say when he visited GJ Crookes Hospital in the south of Durban to see New Year babies and came face to face with 14 year old mother to a baby girl born at this hospital in the early hours of the morning at 02h30.
GJ Crookes Hospital delivers over 300 babies a month and 20% of these are by teenagers. Teenage pregnancy is defined as the percentage of teenage girls (15 – 19 years or younger) who have ever been pregnant. Teenage pregnancy is by definition indicative of unsafe sex, and should be understood in the context of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. There was considerable variation in provincial teenage pregnancy rates in 2003: the rate is highest in the Limpopo province (17%), followed by the Northern Cape (15%) province. The Demographic Health Survey report cautions that the KwaZulu-Natal rate of 2% in 2003 (compared with 17% in 1998) is implausible, and may be due in part to fieldwork problems in that province.
Between midnight and 06h00 in morning of the New Year, 38 babies were born in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. The first baby in the province arrived at a minute past midnight at Osindisweni Hospital in Verulem. She was followed by two more babies, a boy and a girl, at Northdale and King Edward VIII Hospitals. There was one still birth reported at Vryheid Hospital. All babies weighed above 2,5 kg and are well except for a baby girl born at Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital weighing 1,8 kg.
The MEC said to all mothers: “We congratulate all the mothers, their families and the society for the new additions to our prospective future leaders. Healthy mothers raise healthy children. Healthy children grow up stronger and better educated and help build more prosperous communities. And a health system that delivers for mothers and children will deliver for the whole community.”
The MEC went on to say that pregnancy rates among 15-19 years olds must be reduced significantly, for two reasons: First, teen pregnancy increases the risk of HIV infection. Secondly, pregnancy at a very young age may result in pregnancy complications that can lead to the death of the young mother and/or her baby. Other associated consequences include increased risk of infant morbidity, as well as the possibility of emotional and financial strain for the mother.
Dr Dhlomo went around the hospital congratulating all new mothers and advising those below the age of 18 years to inform their peers about the difficulty of teenage pregnancy and delivery. He also advised all mothers to breastfeed their babies. He said “Breast milk is the safest and always available. There are times when you do not have enough money for formula milk but breast milk is always available. It is ever fresh and may not be contaminated by bacteria.”
Out of the 14 mother who were at the ward 12 indicated that they would exclusively breastfeed their babies. This made the MEC very happy as this indicates that the department would be supported as it kicks starts its exclusive breast feeding promotion from the 1 January 2011.
On teenage pregnancy he continued and said knowledge of the status of teenage pregnancy in KwaZulu-Natal is crucial to promote adolescent health. Factors that can contribute to the number of teenagers who fall pregnant are, for example, gender power imbalances (associated with significantly older partners in particulars), early sexual debut, barriers to contraceptive use (seldom used at sexual initiation), and misinformation on sexual health matters.
For enquiries contact: Chris Maxon
Cell: 072517 5417
Cell: 083 447 2863
Issued by: KwaZulu-Natal Health
1 Jan 2011
[ Top ]