Limpopo Health reports that 36 pupils between the ages of 10 and 19 are pregnant and 31 pupils have been infected with HIV in the Mulenzhe area, Limpopo, reports News24. “The department still has to coordinate a meeting with parents regarding the issue of teenage pregnancy because we believe it is deeply rooted in the community,” spokesperson Neil Shikwambana.
The department said it monitored the numbers through clinic and hospital records and had come across even more dire figures. “Look, these are not the most shocking numbers, three months ago we saw higher numbers in another area,” he said. The department further said that it did not want to speculate about what the causes of the high pregnancy and infection rates among minors and teenagers were.
“We do not want to assume the causes, some areas are not safe for children, socio-economic causes play a role,” Shikwambana explained. “We are not sure if it’s school children impregnating each other or adults impregnating school kids, this must still be established,” he added.
The report says Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba visited the area after learning of the shocking pregnancy rate. She said that she had received reports that 36 pupils from one school were pregnant. “There were learners between the ages of nine and 14. Thirteen of them being HIV positive only to find that both parents are HIV negative. So, that tells you that the children from age of nine are involved in issues of sexual activity and those children are both girls and boys and our message would still be abstain, abstain, abstain,” she is quoted in the report as saying.
The MEC has since rolled out a teenage pregnancy awareness campaign in the affected area. “The awareness campaign is aimed at educating learners about sex, HIV, etc. This is an ongoing programme within the department to educate schools,” Shikwambana said.
The report says the Limpopo Education Department was not immediately available for comment despite several attempts to reach representatives.News24 report