Luo declares teenage pregnancies and early childhood marriages a crisis

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Chiefs and Traditional Affairs Minister
Nkandu Luo says teenage pregnancies and early childhood marriages have
now reached alarming and crisis levels.

Professor Luo said there is therefore need for concerted efforts from
all stakeholders to combat the scourge in order to safeguard the
future of the girl child.

She said the scourge has had devastating impact on the welfare of
young girls as it was a major contributing factor to the huge number
of girls dropping out of school.

Prof. Luo said the situation has ultimately sparked high poverty
levels and HIV prevalence among young girls in the country.

ZANIS reports that the Minister was speaking during a media breakfast meeting organised by the Southern African Aids Trust (SAT) at Pamodzi Hotel in Lusaka today ahead of the Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights

(ASRHR) and HIV in Africa Symposium to be held on 7-10 December this

 Prof. Luo also called on stakeholders to invest in programmes aimed at raising the welfare of the girl child in an effort to address the negative impact that teenage pregnancies and early marriages has had on the development of the girl child.

She stressed that the country will not achieve anything if issues
affecting young girl children are not put in perspective.

Prof. Luo also called on parents and guardians to work out measures to
give self-esteem to their girl children for them to break the
traditional mirth that makes them apologetic and look at themselves as
second class citizens.
She said such attitudes caused girls to look down on themselves and lead them to fall prey to teenage pregnancies and early marriages.

The Minister said government is very worried about the rising numbers
of teenage pregnancies and early marriages and will spare no effort to
see the scourge is abated in the country.

And United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Country Coordinator Mary
Otieno pledged her organisations’ commitment to continue funding
programmes that will help address challenges facing the youth in the

Dr. Otieno said Zambia cannot achieve many of the Millennium
Development Goals targeted at the youths without investing heavily in
programmes for the young people.

Meanwhile, an Adolescent Besta Namwila noted that cultural norms that
forbid young people to talk openly about sex with their parents are
to blame for the high levels of teenage pregnancies and early
marriages in the country.

She said parents and their children need to engage in open dialogue on
reproductive health if young people are to be spared of the scourge of
teenage pregnancies and the HIV pandemic.