At least 3,925 teenage girls in Agago district have been impregnated in the last one year, statistics from the District Health Department has revealed.
A report released Monday shows that 3,925 out of 19,503 expectant mothers who visited various health facilities for antennal care services-ANC between 2020 to August 2021 were girls of 18 years and below.
The report compiled from 17 different health facilities puts the average teenage pregnancy cases in the district at 20 percent against the national average of 24 percent.
The cases have been high in the sub-counties of Omot (353 teenage pregnancy cases), Arum (330 cases), Lira Palwo (322 cases), Wol (341 cases), and Kalongo Town Council (405 cases of teenage pregnancies).
Paska Adong, the Agago Senior Community Development Officer and Gender Focal Person attributes the growing trend of teenage pregnancy to limited parental care among families.
Adong says some family heads have neglected their roles in taking care of their children as they spend much of their time in bars drinking alcohol during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) induced lockdown.
Paska also notes that growing cases of Gender-based violence-GBV that have led to the separation of couples have left young children especially girls vulnerable to sex abuse and early marriage to older men.
The District Chairperson, Leonard Opio Ojok, says the trend is worrying and notes that it’s high time the leaders should walk the talk on ending teenage pregnancy and teen marriage.
He says the district will be working closely with school headteachers once primary and secondary schools reopen next year to identify girls who didn’t report back to school adding that their parents will be tasked to explain the circumstances.
Suzan Akany, the Agago Resident District Commissioner has called on parents to play their parental responsibilities in curbing cases of teenage pregnancy. She also advocates for the strengthening of bylaws within the community to hold accountable perpetrators of sexual abuse on teenage girls.
In September this year, cultural leaders in the region raised concerns over the growing trend of teenage pregnancy and early marriage and particularly faulted parents for lowering their guards in monitoring the lifestyles of their children.
The Acholi Paramount Chief Rwot David Onen Acana II while addressing the media in Kitgum Municipality at the time said children became vulnerable during the COVID-19 lockdown as parents had abandoned their parental roles to teachers.