Current Affairs

Join midwives in saving the lives of young girls!

Nakizito Beatrice (L) and Lilian Nuwabaine (R)

If all of us would come together, join hands, and get involved in women’s matters, the world would be a better one. As professional midwives, when we make a future projection, women’s matters strike a red light, calling everyone especially men and boys, simply saying, “make women’s lives matter”.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), maternal mortality is unacceptably high globally, and in 2017, about 295,000 women died during and following pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. The vast majority of these deaths (94%) occurred in low-resource settings including Uganda, yet most could have been prevented.

When a girl gets pregnant and delivers a baby, she is most times destined to poverty except for just a few, if a tremendous job is done to escape poorness. Evidence shows that when such teenagers conceive and deliver a child, they drop out of school, and are deployed to a new career of looking after a child. Through our interactions with many young mothers in rural areas, they have eloquently aired out some of these sentiments;

“We are happy we have children but life is hard, we only have to be strong. “We work hard to feed our children and pay for them to go to school, it’s not an easy life, they want to eat but no money to buy good food”.

Many young girls in Uganda today are still unable to return back to school after such unplanned pregnancies and deliveries and this may jeopardize these girls’ future education and employment opportunities. Sadly, the situation has been worsened with the Covid-19 pandemic which has seen schools get closed for long. As midwives, we project high rates of teenage pregnancies and a tough future for these young girls. Early childbearing can increase risks for newborns as well as young mothers.

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According to WHO, babies born to mothers aged 13 to 19 years face higher risks of low birth weight, preterm delivery and severe neonatal conditions. In some settings, rapid repeat pregnancy is a concern for young mothers, as it presents further health risks for both the mother and the child. Social consequences for teenage pregnant girls include stigma, rejection or violence by partners, parents and even peers. 

Therefore, it’s our obligation as health workers, parents, and the communities to sensitize the teenagers about the available teenager/youth-friendly services with family planning services.

Parents and guardians, as midwives, we request you peacefully not to ossify this need. Current research shows even a 9-year old girl can conceive. We may compromise by saying, we have God in our homes, saying our young girls can abstain by God’s grace, however, the age at which puberty starts varies among girls. 

We, therefore, urge the government of Uganda, religious leaders, politicians, stakeholders and the entire community to sensitize and support young girls on the new journey of seeking family planning services to save a girl child from dying prematurely and having an exuberant life. Young girls have the right to enjoy their lives without any burden and being swamped by hard experiences of mental anguish sequestrating life with children and diseases.

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At the age of 11 to 25years, we often think we are in love, but how about our future when we are 40 years and above. It’s hard to project into the future when excited by this new sexual partner hence lured into a lifelong misery for the rest of your life if a remarkable job isn’t done. Women don’t need pregnancy before self-measure, whether a child is needed or not and this success can be achieved when we look at a girl child and making women’s lives matter and better.

The authors are; Nakizito Beatrice; BSc trained Midwife and PGD Medical Education scholar working with Rakai Community School of Nursing and
Lilian Nuwabaine is a BSc Nurse & MSN-Midwife & Women’s Health Specialist working with Aga Khan University as the Continuous Professional Development Coordinator

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