EUP devastates Mohale’s Hoek

By Ntsoaki Motaung

At least 10 adolescent girls and young women are received at Mpharane Health Centre every month for their first attendance of Antenatal Care (ANC).
This is according to Mookho Kotelo Nursing Officer Mpharane Health Center who indicated that most of their clients or patients around their catchment area are youth seeking services related to Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH), Family Planning (FP) and issues of Early and Unintended Pregnancies (EUP).
She revealed this information to journalists who had visited Mpharane Health facility while they were on their field trip sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UFPA) to cover stories at Mohale’shoek where the percentage of obstetric and gynecological admissions due to abortion has been highest during the past year.
Mohale’s Hoek is a southern district of Lesotho with a population of approximately 40,040 in 2016.
“We have high cases of EUP which is indeed a concerning issue because in a month we receive about ten adolescents and young women who come for ANC for the first time and within that 10, most of them are between the ages of 15, 16, 17 and upwards.
However, the numbers start dropping after 24 years of age and that says youth get pregnant in high numbers in ages less than 24,” she said.
Kotelo says the reason girls and women fall pregnant at young ages is because most of them do not use FP.
“Youth do not use FP for different reasons including that FP is meant for older persons,” she said.
She disclosed most of the parents still believe sex related topics must be treated as taboo that is why it is difficult for them to talk about FP with their children.
Kotelo says due to high EUP also the numbers of admissions due to abortion at hospitals may increase because adolescents get pregnant unintended and may find ways to get rid of it either safely or unsafely.
“At times in a month we have two of our clients who will come with complications even though we had more than that who quit their ANC classes,” she said.
The Nursing Officer indicated that, health complications that come as a result of abortion may include heavy bleeding that leads to a person feeling weak. “In that conditions all we do is to stabilize our patient and then refer them,” she said.
She has shown that EUP may also lead to girls and young women dropping out of school.
While speaking with Journalists ‘Manthabeleng Motumi SRH Mentor at the District Health Management Team (DHMT), Mohale’s Hoek indicated that they find records of early pregnancies in the records of delivery from health centers as well as facilities in the district.
“Currently we have three clinics that records high numbers of girls and young women who give birth at their young ages and those clinics are Nkau Health Center, Nohana and Mpharane.
For the year 2021 Nkau had 35 deliveries of girls below 20 years while Nohana had 55 and Mpharane 17. In 2022 from January to May, Nohana recorded 15 and Mpharane 2,” she said.
She said high EUP is seen in these areas because one of the reasons is that girls in remote areas get married early and that seems to be normalized.
“They start getting married at 14 years even though there still circumstances where you will find 13 years giving birth,” she said.
On the other hand, Ts’eliso Masilo from UNFPA in the department of SRH said they support the government of Lesotho through the Ministry of Health through a number of initiatives to address issues of EUP as well as SRHR issues in all.
“UNFPA is aligned to the government’s policy relating to SRH issues and works very hard to supply the government with family planning commodities, ensure that they are there in every facility and are accessible.
The District Administrator (DA) Mohale’s Hoek Bahlakoana Tsholo said he does not have statistics of EUP but it has been reported to his office that it is high and explained that, only the hospital can have the records.
He indicated that he has learned from reports that there are sex workers within Mohale’s Hoek who are mostly under the age of 18, adding that sex work can lead to high EUP because there is no guarantee that sex workers do take contraceptives.
He indicated that the most challenge facing the district is that of young girls who have turned to be alcoholics.
Speaking at launch of the State of the World Population report 2022 “Seeing the Unseen” Selibe Mochoboroane Minister of Development Planning indicated that, unintended pregnancy is an issue that needs critical contemplation, if a country has the goal of attaining sustainable development.
“The report evidently, shows that, lack of sexual and reproductive health care and information, harmful norms and stigma surrounding women controlling their own fertility and bodies, sexual violence, poverty and stalled economic development and finally gender inequality are salient contributing factors to the unintended pregnancy problem,” he said.
The State of the World Population report 2022 shows that, globally one in two pregnancies take place in the bodies of women who did not affirmatively choose pregnancy or motherhood, who were not open to the prospect of having a child at that time, with that partner, in those circumstances.
It further shows that in Lesotho one in three women start childbearing in adolescence, nearly half of adolescent mothers are children and unintended pregnancies destroy life of young girls.
According to the report many unintended pregnancies are welcomed, celebrated. These are unintended but wanted. But more than 60% of unintended pregnancies end in abortion. These are unintended and unwanted.
A Young Nursing Mother ‘Makamohelo Tekete (22) from Sekhutlong Village, who had attended services at Mpharane Health Centre revealed that she gets all her post-partum health services at the facility and marvelled at the services. She said she got married back in 2018 and dropped out of school – she was in Form B then.

Image showing some parts of Lesotho