The North West has recorded a 41% increase in children between the ages of 10 and 14 years old giving birth in healthcare facilities.
In response to a question posed by the DA in the Provincial Legislature, the Department of Health (DoH) revealed that they recorded 153 deliveries in girls between the ages of 10 and 14 from April 2020 to March 2021. It increased to 216 deliveries for the same period in 2021/22.
During the same period, the DoH noted an increase of almost 17% in girls between the ages of 15 and 19. Between April 2020 and March 2021, 8 806 deliveries were recorded, increasing to 9 424 deliveries between April 2021 and March 2022.
“The DA is deeply concerned by these statistics. Teenage pregnancies are a major cause of concern in the province, especially where there are allegations of statutory rape. Pregnancies at such an early age are associated with significant health risks, including complications at delivery and pregnancy hypertensive disorders. Low birth weight, post-natal depression, and anaemia are just some of the other complications in teenage pregnancies,” Gavin Edwards, DA North West Spokesperson on Health said.
Girls who give birth at young ages are often forced to drop out of school to care for the babies and often have limited access to resources to raise a baby. The statistics provided, paint a worrisome picture that requires intervention from all stakeholders and stern action against adults who impregnate children.
“The DA will demand that the Department of Social Development outlines its intervention measures to deal with this crisis. We will also request the DoH to provide the locations where these deliveries took place. We will submit further urgent questions to the SAPS to provide us with statistics of statutory rape cases reported in the periods above and the status of those cases. It will assist us in linking and assessing if any criminal cases were lodged with the police in situations where adults may have abused or raped young girls.”
He said the North West DoH and the Department of Social Development are clearly failing to deal with teenage pregnancies.