At least 942 girls in Budaka district got pregnant in the first three months of the lockdown, health officials have revealed.
According to health officials in the district, a survey conducted between April and July in only four health facilities indicated that over 900 school-age going girls were pregnant.
“Our statistics are based on the information we receive from health centres. We considered four facilities – Budaka Health Centre IV, Kadeluna Health Centre III, Ik Ik Health Centre III and Kamonkoli Health Centre III, and we realised that 142 girls under 19 years came for antenatal care,” said Nasur Masaba, a clinician working with the district’s health department.
Masaba was speaking during the launch of a Youth Corner at Budaka Health Center IV which is intended to help young people access information and services on reproductive health. He said the number of pregnancies is alarming since it is the first they are registering such a number, adding that many pregnant girls may have not been captured.
Dr. John Wagobaga, the in-charge of Budaka Health Center IV, says that the number of young mothers who turn up for antenatal care at the health facility is alarming. He says 25 per cent of the mothers who turn for antennal care at the facility are between 13 and 19 years of age.
“Of all mothers who come for antenatal care at Budaka Health Centre IV, 25 percent are teenagers. That is a very big number because most of them are victims of rape and defilement. Because of their young age, they tend to have complications during delivery. In this region, girls start engaging in sexual activity very early, they get married very early which is one of the major causes of teenage pregnancies,” Wagobaga said.
Last month, authorities in Kumi district reported that they were struggling to trace the whereabouts of more than 700 girls who conceived during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Sr. Suzan Okwakol, the district’s in-charge of Maternal and Child Health said that between January and September this year, they registered more than 1,900 teenage pregnancies at different health facilities in the district but only 1,200 girls returned to the health facilities for either more antenatal visits or deliveries leaving 700 girls unaccounted for.