Stakeholders attending a heath forum in Migori county.
By Cynthia Gathoni/Geoffrey Satia
Teenage pregnancies and drug abuse have been identified as leading vices distracting the lives of the youths in Migori, Nyamira and Vihiga Counties.
Growth and development of teenagers’ stakeholders derived from the three counties during a one-day exchange forum in a Migori hotel agreed that much effort is needed to educate the communities on the dangers unsafe sexual practices and the use of outlawed drugs among the teenagers.
Discussions at the forum majored on how a multi-sectorial approach can deal with teenage pregnancies, drug abuse, and adolescent behavioural change commonly singled out in three counties.
Dr. Dalmus Oyugi, Chief Officer in charge of Medical Services Migori County said that all the attention should be focused on the youth by educating and protecting them because the country’s economy is anchored towards them. Oyugi narrowed on rampant Female Genital Mutilation in Migori as one of the factors encouraging teenage pregnancies among the practicing communities.
He revealed that designed sustainable campaigns have been launched by different stakeholders together with community leaders to eliminate the vice majorly practiced in Kuria community.
Lillian Njoki, a Clinical Officer at Health Department Migori County who coordinates adolescent issues and child health issues at the County-level said high teenage pregnancies, HIV infections and gender-based violence are factors affecting the well-being of adolescents and youths.
She said as a department they developed a multi-sectorial approach with all the sectors represented including the youth, the gender department, education, police, judiciary, child protection, and health to deal with teenage and adolescent issues within the county.
She noted that adolescent and teenage pregnancy is mainly due to poverty and lack of information and so as a department they educate the youth and teenagers on how to protect themselves from pregnancies and HIV infections and provide training programs to them through the department of youth on income-generating activities.
Veronica Musiega, a Reproductive Health Coordinator from Vihiga County said as a county they want to learn about Migori’s multi-sectoral collaboration and apply the same action plan in Vihiga since they too are tackling issues of adolescent and teenage pregnancy.
She said one of the main issues that they are facing as Vihiga County is adolescent drug abuse and incest which leads to teenage pregnancies being on the rise. “Vihiga County has dialogued with the youths and advised them so as to minimise drug abuse and Gender-Based Violence,’’ said Musiega.
Dr. Steven Wandei, the Vihiga County Director Health said they have a challenge of sexual reproductive issues and he hopes that they will learn from Migori multi-sectorial team.
He said that as a county they have started reach and outreach programs to engage their youths who are in schools and outside schools on adolescent reproductive issues. They have also engaged the police, teachers, gender, youth and social services departments.
Suna East Sub-County Police Commander Esau Ocholo said they have worked closely with the health department in dealing with cases of gender-based violence and early pregnancies in prosecuting the culprits.
He said that the police have also partnered with other government agencies in preventing FGM in Suba area by arresting those found abetting the outlawed practice.
Ocholo noted that the police are also working with child protection department in making sure that children rights are observed and that no child is kept out of school.