Reproductive health experts in Uganda say more teenage girls are now seeking contraceptive care, from 10% in 2019 to 19% now. However campaigners warn the number of unwanted pregnancies is still high going by latest studies.
25% of girls aged 15-19 in Uganda have begun childbearing. According to the 2011 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), more than four in 10 births are unplanned.
When a young Ugandan student Scovia Namutebi, was 14 years old, she ran away from a troubled home - and started a relationship with a man. Not long after, she received some unwelcome news: she was pregnant.
At the time - she says she knew very little about contraception. “It took me some time, I realized I was pregnant when I was four months already. I was just asking myself why I wasn’t having my periods until I went to the hospital for a checkup.” the young mother said.
Scovia had to drop out of school in Senior two. She married the baby's father and they now live in Namuwongo, a slum in Kampala but she's jobless.
“Despite some studies showing there’s an increase in girls seeking contraception, campaigners say a large number are unaware of any family planning method. This has resulted in many pregnancies and school dropouts particularly in slum neighbourhoods.
Scovia is now 19 but she's not keen to have any more children right now ...and has started using contraceptives.
“I’m not in the mood of giving birth again, I just want to plan for my future, so now I’m using it.” Scovia says.
Campaigners say girls in the slum live under dire conditions yet conversations around reproductive health are unheard of.
Josephine Omunyide is the Founder of the, Dreams Slum Project. She laments that the "vulnerability of a girl is at a very high level and yet the challenge of sexual education has not been in anyway tackled and that’s why the rate at which young girls are becoming pregnant is high.”
Reproductive Health experts say more girls below the age of 20 are now seeking contraceptive care but a lot still needs to be done to stop unwanted pregnancies.
Scovia and hundreds of girls in this slum have now been enrolled in mentorship programs to learn new skills like tailoring and hairdressing.
They're also being taught about sexual reproductive health to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the future. But hundreds of girls out there remain in the dark about how to prevent unwanted pregnancies.