A recent report from the Luwero district has disclosed that no fewer than 1,432 adolescents sought antenatal care at health centers within the last four months after conceiving.
The comprehensive analysis, spanning July to October 2023, elucidates that 13 girls below the tender age of 15 and 1,419 girls aged between 15 and 19 availed themselves of antenatal services for the first time following pregnancy.
Remarkably, the statistics underscore that an average of 11 girls, each day, make their initial visit to health centers subsequent to becoming pregnant.
The geographical breakdown reveals Luwero town council as the epicenter, reporting 301 cases, followed by Bombo town council with 156 instances, and Kikyusa sub-county with 147 cases.
Other areas such as Kalagala sub-county documented 143 cases, Zirobwe sub-county registered 130 cases, and Katikamu sub-county accounted for 111 cases.
Florence Namuyanja, the Luwero District Health Assistant in Charge of Maternal Health, elucidated that some pregnant girls admitted to the midwives that they had been impregnated by close relatives, teachers, or friends.
Namuyanja disclosed that these girls are receiving counseling on specific days to equip them for the impending challenges of childbirth and to shield them from potential victimization by adult mothers.
Nevertheless, Namuyanja acknowledged that the reported cases of teenage pregnancies might be an underestimate, as some girls opt for Traditional Birth Attendants, fearing that their boyfriends might be tracked and prosecuted.
In a poignant testimony, a teenage mother at Luwero Hospital shared that she succumbed to peer pressure, engaging in sexual activities before conceiving.
Another recounted that the lack of basic amenities at home compelled her to seek means of survival, resulting in her pregnancy.
Joyce Namigadde, the Luwero District Probation Officer, raised concerns about the adverse consequences for teenage mothers, including school dropout and health complications during deliveries.
She emphasized that many cases of defilement go unreported due to compromises and intimidation by relatives.
Namigadde cautioned that, without proactive parental intervention, the holiday season might witness a surge in such cases. She urged parents to engage in candid conversations with their children about the perils of early sexual activity and to impose restrictions on unnecessary outings.
Additionally, she advised against leaving children unsupervised while watching television soaps and using social media.
A distraught parent from Kikyusa sub-county, whose child fell victim to defilement, expressed dismay at the lenient treatment of suspects.
She narrated the distressing incident of her 13-year-old daughter being defiled by a teacher, who, despite being arrested, was granted bail by Luwero High Court after only four months on remand.
Brenda Nabukenya, the Luwero District Woman Member of Parliament, underscored the necessity for local governments to regulate entertainment venues and prevent access to children below 18.
She also called for parliamentary discussions on a policy allowing girls, especially school dropouts, access to contraceptives to curb the escalating rate of pregnancies.
The health report from Luwero revealed that, in the financial year 2022/23, 42 girls below 15 years and 4,480 girls below 19 years experienced pregnancies.