The Department of Health is concerned about the increased number of learner pregnancies reported by schools across the province.
The reaction was prompted by the discovery that 36 female learners from different schools in Mulenzhe Village, Vhembe district were pregnant whereas an additional 31 learners between the ages of nine and 19 from schools in the same area are infected with HIV.
This was revealed during a visit to schools in the area on Tuesday by Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba as part of school health and teenage pregnancy awareness campaign.
Information posted on the department’s social media page indicated that teenage pregnancy has been a challenge in the country and the province and went on to highlight that in the previous financial year, the national target for delivery of women in facility rate between 10 to 19 years was 12% but the province exceeded the target by reaching 13,8%. It was learnt that the biggest challenge was in the Vhembe district as it reached 15,2% with Collins Chabane Municipality at 17,9% followed by Makhado Municipality with 17,3%.
Ramathuba reportedly said she was depressed by the fact that while she was getting invitations from private schools to motivate learners on the eve of final examinations she has to deal with issues of teenage pregnancy in rural public schools. She further warned learners that government doesn’t appoint midwives to run schools but teachers to educate learners because there is no room for pregnancy in the schools.
“The time for the blame game is gone. Let us own up as a society that we have failed to provide guidance and leadership to our children. It will take parents, communities, educators, men of the cloth, health workers, Police, social workers and learners themselves to deal with these challenges,” she stated.
Ramathuba reportedly called on communities to join forces in supporting learners who are infected with HIV so that they don’t default their treatment but live a long and healthy life.
Story: ENDY SENYATSI