By Nande Fayo

Hon MEC Mrs Siphokazi Lusithi
There is a general appreciation that while teenage pregnancy rate were already high, the impact of COVID -19 pandemic may have also contributed to the increased numbers owing to temporal closure of schools, increased GBVF incidents and difficulties of accessing contraceptives in medical facilities.

It is estimated that roughly 30% of teenage girls between the ages of 10 and 9 years old in South Africa fell pregnant  during April 2020 and March 2021 and the Eastern Cape Province is reported to be among the top three provinces with high teenage pregnancy prevalence at 17,1%.This was revealed by Eastern Cape Social Development MEC Siphokazi Lusithi in her address during the National Council of Provinces debate on teenage pregnancy.  

Lusithi said given the deep inequality and uneveneness of the Province socioeconomic structures, it is essential to ensure that rural and peri-rural communities are prioritized by the department’s interventions. She said it is important to note that there are other key social factors that contribute to the challenge and those include backward social norms, risky sexual behavior and the scourge of Gender Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF).​
​​She said that in order to curb the teenage pregnancy pandemic, the interventions must be family based. “ Families constitutes a core feature in understanding social behavior in every society. They are a central location where change can be affected. She said the EC Social development recently launched Social Behavioral Change programmes. These programmes are designed to be implemented in community settings, group settings and also in in individual settings. These programmes are “YOLO” (You Only Live Once) and” Chommy”(Friend).  Targeting young people between 15-24 years, their objective is to generate knowledge, develop skills and empowerchildren to make informed choices to reduce HIV infections, substance abuse and also to prevent teenage pregnancy”.

Lusithi also said, in partnership with the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) and Government of Canada, they are implementing a programme of empowering Women and Girls to Realise their Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights which covers the period 2019-2023. “The aim of this programme is to make adolescence girls and young women to realise their sexual reproductive health”, said Lusithi.