Girls at Risk: Adolescent Pregnancies rise in Uganda
According to the Ugandan government, the teenage pregnancy rate before the pandemic was 25%, or one in four girls. Since the pandemic that number has risen, now one in three girls are pregnant before the age of 19.
Globally, complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death in girls aged 15-19.
How is the Covid-19 pandemic affecting girls?
With a very low vaccination rate, the constant cycle of lockdowns means the closure of schools and outreach programs that help girls, leaving them more vulnerable to sexual abuse. Growing poverty is another risk factor as young girls are forced into early marriages so their parents can collect a bridal dowry.
Why is early pregnancy so dangerous?
According to the WHO, adolescent mothers face a higher risks of eclampsia, puerperal endometritis and systemic infections. Babies of adolescent mothers face a higher risks of low birth weight, preterm delivery and severe neonatal complications. There are also social and economical impacts, as most girls are forced to drop out of school once they have a baby.
What is Save the Mothers doing to help these girls?
Our graduates are working at the grassroots level to address the complicated issues that are barriers to safe motherhood; sexual assault, gender inequality and education for girls.
According to our East Africa Director, Dr. Miriam Mutabazi,“We need to empower these girls, get them back in school. Save the Mothers is supporting alumni working in these areas…those who are standing in the gap. Many are embracing the problem of teenage pregnancies. Our male graduates are influencers in their communities…champions of family planning, working to stop gender-based violence and offering counselling services.”
In the immediate term, Save the Mothers is also helping to cover the costs of care for girls who have been abandoned with no resources like 18-year-old Christine (pictured above) who was abandoned in a remote healthcare facility with no resources. Thanks to your donations we were able to pay for her emergency c-section as well as the medicine she needed after she developed life-threatening sepsis. Without your help her newborn would have been orphaned.