Leaders in Laikipia County have lamented the rise in teenage pregnancies.
Statistics from the Laikipia Health Service (LHS) show that 15,015 girls aged between 10 and 19 became pregnant in the past three years and are now young mothers.
The cases were announced after Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi, his deputy John Mwaniki and First Lady Maria Mbeneka led the county team in touring healthcare facilities.
Ms Mbeneka urged parents to engage their teenage boys and girls about their sexuality.
“During the two weeks of engagement with our people at the grassroots, we realised that some parents have failed to provide mentorship to their children,” Ms Mbeneka told journalists yesterday.
“The community at large should … be bold enough in telling them the truth about their sexuality.
“That role of mentoring teenagers has solely been left to the parents who are ever busy at work. Registering over 15,000 teenage pregnancies in a span of three years is worrying.
“That is why I am urging religious institutions and schools not to relent in the fight against these vices.”
Of the 15,015 cases, 5,506 were reported in 2019, 5,489 in 2020 and 4,020 in 2021.
According to the 2021 Laikipia County Statistical Abstract, the number of males using condoms declined in the previous three years. The number declined from 5,647 in 2018 to 5,274 in 2019 and 3,658 in 2020.
The data was gathered by the county government in partnership with the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).
It also shows that there were 1,618 abortions in 2018, 1,525 in 2019 and 1,492 in 2020, based on cases reported at government healthcare centres.
Rise Her Initiative, a lobby group, wants to sensitise over 10,000 girls in the county on menstrual hygiene and provide sanitary towels to over 1,000 of them in the next three years.
The group’s patron, Paul Mwaniki, told the Nation: “We have been training the girls to be responsible in the society and desist from being manipulated by men in exchange for sanitary towels. We have been encouraging them to pass the knowledge to their colleagues at the homestead level.
“We have also been training parents on how to sustain their homes during the Covid-19 pandemic. The guardians will be trained on various entrepreneurship skills like chicken farming. We will (extend the programme) to other counties.”
A majority of teenagers in Laikipia, Ms Mbeneka said, had been vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV).
“We have trained all the nursing staff on cancer. We have realised that the number of children who have received the HPV vaccine has increased,” she said.
“I thank parents, teachers and all the LHS workers for their support in rolling out the vaccine to young girls. All this is geared towards fighting cancer in our community and we are happy that our people have embraced the vaccine.”