Calls for joint action against rising teen pregnancies in Isiolo

Isiolo Musician Mohammed Abdi, popularly known as Heavy D with some of the girls who benefited from sanitary pads at Ole Bulle on November 6, 2021.

Photo credit: Waweru Wairimu | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Girls from poor families are at high risk of being lured into sex in exchange for sanitary towels.
  • County Commissioner warns of stern measures against men who impregnate schoolgirls

Isiolo leaders, health officials and administrators have called for joint efforts to tackle rising teenage pregnancies that account for 40 per cent of all pregnancies in the county.

Reports by the county health department indicate that 18 per cent of teenagers are pregnant, the majority of whom are in primary and secondary schools.

Besides defilement and early marriages, stakeholders attribute the surge to increasing numbers of girls aged between 10-15 years engaging in prostitution in Isiolo town and its outskirts as a result of poverty and drug influence.

Sex for sanitary pads

Girls from poor families are at high risk of being lured into sex by men in exchange for sanitary towels, which are hard to get, both in schools and at home.

County Health executive Wario Galma said the high teenage pregnancies were hindering efforts to end HIV/Aids as most of the girls are at high risk of being infected for having unprotected sex.

Speaking recently, Mr Galma, Woman Representative Rehema Jaldesa and Public Service chief officer Mustafa Kuntulo called for alternative programmes to support those engaging in prostitution.

“We need to come up with empowerment programmes and help eradicate poverty, which makes them engage in prostitution given a lack of alternative decent livelihoods,” Ms Jaldesa said.

Mr Galma said HIV and sexually transmitted infections will increase among the teenagers if immediate interventions are not introduced.

Justice for victims

County Commissioner Geoffrey Omoding warned of stern measures against men who impregnate schoolgirls and put on notice parents who refuse to report the incidents to authorities for action.

“If you impregnate any girl, be ready to go to jail. We will not spare parents who fail to report the cases,” said Mr Omoding.

He said the national government will continue liaising with schools to know the number of girls at home due to pregnancy and trace the men involved for legal action.

“Apart from dimming their education dreams, it puts them at high risk of getting infected with HIV. We are committed to ensure all the pregnant girls go back to school to achieve the 100 per cent transition,” the administrator said.

Ms Jaldesa asked parents to monitor their daughters and be mindful of who they spend time with while at home and during holidays to ensure they are not lured into drugs and promiscuity.

“There is need for collaboration among different partners to ensure the girls get sanitary towels on a regular basis so that their learning is not affected,” the legislator said, warning parents against condemning their daughters in event they are impregnated.

County’s HIV/Aids prevalence has reduced from 3.2 per cent in 2018 to 1.6 per cent in 2020, according to Mr Galma, who said cases among women are higher at 2.3 per cent than those among males that stand at one per cent.

Isiolo’s mother-to-child transmission rate is 11.4 per cent. About 3,248 people, among them 226 children, live with the disease.

Youths account for 50 per cent of Kenya’s total HIV/Aids infections, according to National Aids Control Council Board Chair Angeline Siparo.

“There is a need for a safe environment for young girls to thrive and the county to prioritise teenage pregnancies,” Ms Siparo said in a press release.


Launching Isiolo County Aids Implementation Plan, 2021-25, Mr Galma appealed to pregnant women to seek postnatal care as a number of them were only attending hospital while nearing delivery, making it hard to protect their unborn children.

He said HIV continues to contribute the highest mortality rate, burdening households and straining systems put in place by Governor Mohamed Kuti’s administration to deal with the disease.

“A lot needs to be done in mobilising resources and coming together as Isiolo communities to end HIV/Aids,” Mr Galma said, adding that the county was committed to working with other stakeholders in the fight.

Ms Jaldesa called for enhanced awareness of HIV/Aids to give residents the confidence of testing and being positive should they be infected.