Source: Zambia Daily Mail
PANOS Southern Africa senior programmes officer Gillies Kasongo says reproductive health services should be made user -friendly for teenagers to curb unwanted pregnancies and illegal abortions.
In an interview after Panos completed a two-day stakeholders meeting aimed at increasing access to maternal and child health services on the Copperbelt last week, Mr Kasongo observed that there are many factors that are prompting teenagers to procure illegal abortions.
"The challenge we found in Kalulushi is that the number of teenage pregnancies is quite high and abortion among teenagers is also a challenge. Part of the factors contributing to such a scenario is poverty," Mr Kasongo said.
He cited other factors contributing to teenage pregnancies and illegal abortions as peer pressure and rejection by parents and guardians when their children fall pregnant.
He also said teenagers fall pregnant due to lack of access to maternal health services such as antenatal clinics.
Mr Kasongo said teenagers fear that they might find nurses who know their parents when they seek reproductive health services.
"So the way forward is to make sexual reproductive health services friendly, especially to teenagers," Mr Kasongo said.
He advised parents against being harsh on their children when they fall pregnant but to instead look at the bigger picture of ensuring that pregnant girls safely deliver their babies and are re-integrated into society.
"I know there is an issue of morality when a teenager falls pregnant but we need to think of the two lives at stake," Mr Kasongo said.