Early indications are that there has been a further decline year on year in the number of babies born to mothers under the age of 18.
The City of Cape Town’s Health Directorate is enthused by early indications that the teenage pregnancy rate appears to have declined even further year on year.
While the data for 2015 has not been finalised yet, indications are that there has been a drop in the number of teenage births compared with the previous year. Of the 69 908 live births recorded in 2015, 2 704 were to mothers under the age of 18. This accounted for 3,87% of all births, as outlined below.
‘This is very good news indeed and I want to applaud our young women and men who are taking responsibility for their sexual health. We need to stop clinging to the belief that young children will listen to us when we tell them to abstain. Ideally, yes, but the fact is that many are having sex and so it is our responsibility to make sure that they do so responsibly. Looking at the figures, it is clear that more and more young people are taking that responsibility, but also that the interventions are hitting the mark,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Health, Councillor Siyabulela Mamkeli.School outreach programmes have become a crucial intervention for City Health. On Wednesday 13 April 2016, Councillor Mamkeli addressed learners at Rocklands Secondary School in Mitchells Plain as part of the outreach programme (pictured above).
‘It is still a challenge to get some schools to agree to us engaging with their learners, but we are seeing greater willingness on the part of some and I commend those principals and school governing bodies. Ignorance is no longer a defence – children need to learn their various subjects, but I believe that reproductive health is probably one of the most crucial aspects of life orientation. The more we educate our young people, the better choices they are able to make,’ added Councillor Mamkeli.
City Health and its partners are hoping to provide reproductive health services to at least 40 000 young people under the age of 18 in this financial year. In the first quarter (July – September 2015), just over 10 500 young clients received this service.
City Health offers various contraceptive methods free of charge, including the pill, injection, intra-uterine devices and condoms. Clients are also able to be tested for sexually transmitted infections and HIV and receive appropriate counselling, treatment and care if required. In 2015, more than 1,9 million female condoms were distributed in the eight City Health sub-districts, compared with 1,72 million in 2014. The directorate also distributed nearly 54 million male condoms and treated a total of 42 713 sexually transmitted infections, down from 43 190 in 2014.
‘Our clinics are open for business and I invite anyone who needs advice or guidance around issues of reproductive help to get to their nearest clinic so that our staff can help you make the right choices for your circumstances,’ said Councillor Mamkeli.