Sibongiseni Dhlomo welcomed 48 babies born on New Year’s Day in KwaZulu-Natal.(REUTERS)
The fight against teenage pregnancy will only be won through a collective effort involving parents, community leaders, and young people themselves taking charge of their own health, says KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo.
Dhlomo welcomed 48 babies, born on New Year’s Day across the province. Seventeen girls and 31 boys were born in KwaZulu-Natal on January 1.
Speaking at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital, Dhlomo once again decried the fact that among the mothers who gave birth on New Year’s Day was a 14-year-old, a 15-year-old and two 17-year-olds.
"We continue to be concerned by teenage pregnancy in the province. As a department, we bear the consequences of this. These four mothers who are 18 years old fell pregnant when they were 17 years old."
"In the case of the 14-year-old mother, she was 13. I want to emphasis the point that some of these teenage mothers can’t deliver because they are simply too young. As a result, they end up having to deliver by caesarean section, and some of them die," he said.
"In fact, 8% of pregnancies are from teenage mothers, but teenage mothers contribute 25% to the rate of maternal deaths. So, we are saying that it’s very risky to fall pregnant if you are younger than 18."
Dhlomo said the government always encouraged abstinence from sex for as long as possible until one is physically and psychologically ready to deal with its consequences.
Dhlomo was accompanied by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, who handed over birth certificates to mothers of the new-born babies.
This was part of a partnership between the departments of health and home affairs to raise awareness on the importance of early registration of childbirth, with a strong emphasis on registering births within 30 days of delivery.
About 28 hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal have Home Affairs facilities located within them.