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In just under a month, TSHOLOTSHO District Hospital recorded 71 cases of adolescent pregnancies from females aged 18 and under, with health authorities urging for an all-stakeholder approach to address the issue.

The Constitutional Court determined last year that the age of consent should be raised from 16 to 18 years. Dr Mbonisi Nyathi, Tsholotsho District Medical Officer, indicated that 24 percent of the 205 births recorded in June were minors.

Last year, the region was in the spotlight after a nine-year-old girl was pregnant by her 13-year-old cousin.

According to Dr. Nyathi, the major cause of problems in young females giving delivery is early pregnancy.

“In June, 49 (24 percent) deliveries were from girls 18 years and below, 22 (11 percent) of them were all 16 years and below. The previous month, in May, we had a total of 186 deliveries and most of them were under the age of 18, which shows the constant large numbers of young girls who give birth in a month and most of them are juveniles.

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Giving birth at a very young age brings out a lot of complications to the mother and the unborn baby, as a result, most under-aged mothers deliver via Caesarean section to try and avoid complications.”

He urged the community to introduce stakeholder engagement and awareness campaigns to help stop young under-age girls from falling pregnant. The Tsholotsho community has over the years raised complaints about how cross-border transport operators take advantage of young girls when they come to visit and leave them pregnant in many cases.

Some schools in Tsholotsho have come up with guidance and counselling sessions that can help children make wise decisions that shape their future positively. Early unintended pregnancies have led to a large number of school dropouts, Sexually

Transmitted Infections, and they can also have negative social and economic effects on girls, their families, and communities.

Zimbabwe is sitting on a 22 percent national teenage pregnancy rate while the latest HIV prevalence rate is at about 11,8 percent, a worrying trend as teenage pregnancy is increasing rapidly, health experts said.

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