Crisis of Maternal mortality among Teenage Girls in Kenya
Reproductive health alliance of Kenya Report of August 2010 indicated that unwanted pregnancies and abortion is prevalent among school going youth in Kenya. It was reported that in 2003, young women below 20years of age accounted for 16% of the overall 20,000 abortions related complications treated annually in Kenya public hospitals
The Federation of women lawyers in Kenya (FIDA-K), Kenya medical Association, Ministry of health and Ipas Africa Alliance concur with the RHA report above and indicate that 316,560 abortions, both spontaneous and induced are performed annually in Kenya. In this care, 800 abortions done daily that translates to 2600 maternal mortality annually.
Reproductive health and teenage pregnancies in Kenya
According to PSRI and UNCEF (1995) despite the high prevalence of teenage pregnancies in Kenya, and associated adverse health and social consequences, studies addressing issues relating to maternal health among adolescents in the country are scarce. Existing population-based data suggest wide regional disparities in maternal health and adolescent reproductive health indicators in the country. Low maternal mortality ratios of less than 100 deaths per 100,000 live births have been observed in parts of the low mortality areas in central Kenya while ratios higher than 1000 deaths per 100,000 live births have been observed in some regions such as Nyanza, Coast and Western provinces (PSRI & UNICEF, 1995). Nyanza Province has also consistently recorded the highest infant and child mortality levels in the country over last few decades. Indicators of maternal health do vary considerably even within Nyanza province. Among the 16 districts oversampled in the 1998 KDHS to provide district level estimates, contraceptive prevalence was lowest in South Nyanza (9.5%, compared to 40.9% for Kisii within the sameprovince). The same district (South Nyanza)also reported the lowest mean age at first intercourse (14.3 years), first marriage (16.0 years), and first birth (16.9 years), compared to national averages of 16.1, 18.4 and 18.8 years 1respectively (NCPD et al., 1999). Early initiation of sexual activity, in the absence of contraceptive use, expos
es adolescents in such settings to particularly high risk of unplanned teenage pregnancies and related adverse outcome.
The major problems facing adolescent mothers in Kenya, and the most important in eliminating poor maternal health results is accessibility to facilities of healthcare. One notes that poor accessibility of maternal health care services, in addition to the problem of physical accessibility, appalling poverty, poor communication or lack of transportation networks make it impossible for the young mothers to seek appropriate maternal health care, even in the neediest circumstances when complications, requiring urgent medical intervention arise.
Unsafe motherhood among teens
A substantial proportion of pregnancies among teenagers are unintended. These have
Considerable devastating effect s on the girls, especially with respect to their educational
Opportunities and acceptance by the parents and families.
Studies have shown that in a number of cases, the teenagers are desperate to get out of the situation and often consider terminating the pregnancy. It has been established that some teenagers consider abortion but decided against, some are unsuccessful and successful attempts have dire consequences considering the procedures used which are often unsafe and extremely risky.
Advocates for youth have observed that adolescent maternal mortality is an overlooked crisis. They see that adolescent women and their infants stand at the risk of injury, illness and death. Furthermore, it is alarming that even though contraceptive use and pregnancy is addressed, contraceptive use among young women is considerably low in developing world where Kenya falls. in this case, girls are more vulnerable that older women given their biological, economical, cultural and social reality. it is in light of this that WHO has said that there is an urgent need for programs and I add locally viable programs are initiated to address prevention of early teen pregnancies and safety of adolescent pregnancies.
The way forward.
As seen above, there is a looming crisis of maternal mortality and insecurity among teenage girls, not just in Kenya by in the whole wide world. World leaders therefore need to take urgent holistic action to address the issue including prevention and cure.
Key in the intervention strategies would be continued sexual and reproductive health, economic empowerment of families, improved road networks, access to healthcare services, stiff penalties to those who impregnate girls under 20 years, child and teenage expectant mothers rights and justice, safe delivery, and rehabilitation of young mothers to take care of their future and that of their children.