Senior Chief Mburuma of Luangwa district and Feira area Member of Parliament Patrick Ngoma have expressed concern at the increase in the number of early marriages and teen pregnancies amongst school going girls in the area.
The two have underscored the need to take quick interventions to curb the escalating vice which they said has the potential to negatively impact on the development of the District.
Senior Chief Mburuma stated that early marriages and teen pregnancies in the District has become a source of concern which needs immediate interventions.
The traditional leader was speaking during a reproductive health community conversation verification and validation meeting held at Kasinsa Rural Health Centre.
The event was organized by the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) under the Better Health Outcome through Monitoring and Assessment (BHOMA) Project.
Senior Chief Mburuma said it was good that the community themselves have identified early marriages and teen pregnancies as a source of reproductive health concern that is causing deaths to expectant mothers.
The traditional ruler also urged government to harmonize laws between the Local Courts and the Magistrate courts to address the issue of early marriages.
He cited an example that in a case of a 14 year old, the Local courts allow early marriages as long as the girl becomes of age while the magistrate courts charge for defilement.
He said stiffer punishment should be meted out to culprits of early marriages to deter others from committing similar offences.
Meanwhile, Feira MP Patrick Ngoma who is also Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education also voiced concern at the increase of early marriages and teen pregnancies.
Mr Ngoma called for quick intervention from traditional leaders and other stakeholders to combat the vice.
He said Government alone cannot manage to fight the scourge which has caused a lot of deaths among young girls.
The Law maker appealed to the traditional leadership and community members to report parents or guardians who are encouraging early marriages especially among school going children.
Mr Ngoma said government has put up deliberate policies and programmes to ensure that the girl child attains maximum education which will help her make informed decisions and contribute positively to national development.