ADOLESCENTS’ lack of decision-making power has made them ill-equipped to face many of the social challenges in communities, Copperbelt permanent secretary Howard Sikwela has observed.
Reverend Sikwela said adolescents, due to their relative youngness, lack of decision-making power and incomplete personal development were ill-equipped to handle the reproductive health burdens they face.
Rev. Sikwela said the lack of life skills and the inability to adapt positive behaviour that could enable adolescents to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life was compounded by several factors.
He said young people especially girls faced a variety of challenges that hindered the fulfilment of their potential.
Rev Sikwela said the challenges girls were facing included sexual crimes, defilements leading to high rates of HIV and teen pregnancies.
He explained that high rates of maternal mortality with young girls dying from pregnancies, child marriages, poor education with low transition from primary to secondary school were but some of the challenges the girls were facing.
He said despite the extensive attention given to Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) and teenage pregnancy in the past 2 to 3 years across the country, many adolescents still fell pregnant.
Adolescents’ pregnancy refers to pregnancy of a woman of less than 19 years, a trend that has become a national epidemic.
According to the current Ministry of General Education Statistical bulletin, it indicates that school girls’ pregnancies were very high in the year 2006, 12,370 pregnancies were recorded, 11, 391 in 2007, 12, 370 in 2008, 13, 634 in 2009, 13, 769 in 2010, 13, 929 in 2011, 12,753in 2012, 14, 500in 2013and about 16,000 in 2014.
The Ministry of Health fact finding mission on teenage pregnancies (2014) concluded that most of the schools were struggling to stabilise and that the number of pregnancies was a public health problem.