KUNENE, 12 AUG.-Customary practices such as child-marriages are believed to compound the increase in Teenage Pregnancy rates in the Kunene region, exposing even more minors to the worrisome trend.
The Parlimentary Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Social Development and Sexual and Reproductive Family Affairs in collaboration with the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum embarked on an outreach program in the Kunene and Erongo Regions so far.
An outreach programme in Opuwo and surrounding villages from 7 to 9 August 2017, conducted a series of consultations with various stakeholders on the state of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights(SRHR) and HIV/AIDS in the region. Participants were drawn from the health, safety and security services and education sectors; the Ministry of Gender Equity and Child Welfare and community members.
The delegation also visited multiple health facilities in Opuwo, Oruvandji, Ombombo and Ohandungu in a bid to understand the situation on the ground.
Ndahafa Kaukungua, Senior Information Officer at the National Assembly, said the Committee stated that the outcome of observing such customary practices is that young girls are prevented from exercising their sexual and reproductive health and rights as young girls cannot have bargaining rights in a customary marriage to an adult.
“Teenage pregnancies are still on the increase despite the family planning services offered at health facilities. The stakeholders stressed to the Committee an urgent need for proper coordination of service delivery as the health sector remains under pressure to provide health services due to lack of sufficient health professionals and facilities,” Kaukungua said.
The Committee will continue the outreach program in Kamanjab, Khorixas, Swakopmund, Arandis, Walvisbay, Usakos, Omaruru, Karibib and will conclude the outreach in Otjimbingwe on 18 August 2017. –Sharma Mundingi