Thyolo district health office (DHO) has in the last seven months registered 11, 056 live births, and the district’s safe-motherhood coordinator has attributed the phenomenon to heightening teenage pregnancies.
Barbara Hussein said the 11,056 children born between January to August this year are about six times the number of children that were born at the same time last year 2,052 were born during the same period in 2020.
Said Hussein: “The birth rate has grown due to high teenage pregnancies and that other pregnant women from surrounding districts like Blantyre, Mulanje and Chikwawa visit the district for deliveries.”
According to Hussein, the other reason was some women from Mozambique also come to Thyolo to access health care services including delivering their babies when they are pregnant.
“While the birth rate has increased, Thyolo has managed to reduce neonatal deaths from 230 last year during the same period to 128. Similarly, we have reduced maternal deaths to eight this year from 11 deaths in 2020 during the same period.
“This is good progress if we are to look at this angle although every single life lost matters in every situation. We are still employing other mechanisms to ensure zero deaths in these areas,” she said.
White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood Executive Director, Hester Nyasulu, commended the district for reducing maternal and neonatal deaths. However, Nyasulu said the birth-rate was alarming and clearly indicated that there was a problem.
He said there was need for the district to take sexual reproductive health services closer to communities if they are to reduce unwanted pregnancies and reduce population.
“There is need to make sure that there is availability of family planning methods even in hard-to-reach areas,” said Nyasulu.
Thyolo District recorded a staggering figure of 4, 509 cases of teenage pregnancies within the period of six months from January to June 2021.
The district hospital Coordinator for Youth Friendly Health Services, Steven Dimba, expressed worry over the increased cases of teenage pregnancies, attributing the trend to suspension of outreach clinics, school health days and open days due to Coronavirus.
Dimba said young people are failing to access sexual and reproductive health rights services such as condoms. (Additional reporting by James Nthondo, Nyasa Times)