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Teenage Pregnancy and child marriage still high: Ministry

Girls during the International Day of the Girl Child yesterday at Dembesh Hotel (photo by Sheila Ponnie)

By Bullen Bala

Teenage pregnancy and adolescent birth rate is still standing high according to the Director General at the National Ministry of Health.

With the country’s girl’s population which shows 72% below the age of 18 years, the Director General at the Ministry of Health Dr. Alexander Dimiti said that provides for a higher rate in child marriages.

Dimiti made the remarks during the International Day of the Girl Child at Dembesh Hotel in Juba.

South Sudan is one of the 40 countries in the world with the highest rates of child marriages according to UNFPA.

About 7% of girls marry before the age of 15 and 40% before the age of 18 according to the 2010 South Sudan Household Survey.

“There is a high rate of child marriage because 51% of the population is below the age of 18 and child bearing begins at the age of 15-19,” Dimiti said yesterday.

Dimiti said that child marriage has however been driven by some factors he believed which included poverty, the needs of dowry, lack of school fees, lack of parental care and other neglects of medical care such as very low use of contraceptives.

He added that maternal mortality still stands high in the country despite efforts put by the ministry and partners to elevate the scenario.

Dimiti reiterated that the MoH however recognize the efforts of gender equality and empowerment of women and girls as a very critical factor for the realization of positive health outcomes and improve on the health indicators especially those related to sexual and  reproductive health.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Population Fund Programme Analyst Mary Juan Marle said that UNFPA had intervened to convert the girl child through building capacity for sexual and reproductive health service delivery and HIV prevention, treatment and care.

Marle added that UNFPA also provides training for health care providers on provision of youth friendly, training of councilors and youth peer education network.

Marle urged the government, partners and the parents to help girls exercise their rights and realize their aspirations.

The international day of the girl child is celebrated annually with the purpose of promoting girl’s empowerment and fulfillment of their rights while also highlighting the challenges that the girls over the world face.

 

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