Teen pregnancies remain high despite the numbers dropping for the fourth year in a row due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Data from the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey assessing a five-year period (2016-2020) indicates that 331,577 teenagers reported of first time pregnancy in 2020.
In the five years, 1,770,861 girls between the age of 10 and 19 were found to be pregnant, with 2018 recording the highest number of teen pregnancies at 427,135
In 2016 (275,633) teenagers were recorded to be pregnant and (339,676) in 2017.
The second highest year was 2019 with (396,340).
The data was based on the number of adolescents attending their first antenatal clinic.
It was feared that the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdown of schools for nine months would negatively affect the girls.
However the data indicates that the numbers reduced by 65,263 in 2020 compared to 2019.
Most affected counties
The data indicates that Nairobi reported majority of the teen pregnancy cases with a record of (22,159), Narok (15,225), Kakamega (14,768), Meru (14,669), Bungoma (13,376), Nakuru (12,450), Homabay (11,867), Trans Nzoia (11,601), Kajiado (10,872), and Kiambu (10,382).
Lamu county recorded the lowest number of teen pregnancy in 2020 with 1,062 cases.
It was followed by Taita Taveta (1,428), Isiolo (2,092), Nyandarua (2,306), Embu (2,310), Mombasa (2,365) and Nyeri(2,380).
However, health experts, indicate that the low numbers of teen pregnancies recorded do not necessarily mean that the cases are low in the regions.
Dr Thuranira Kaugiria of Kenyatta National Hospital, argues that the effect of home delivery, still practiced in some communities, could greatly underestimate the true record of teen pregnancies.
He said the real impact of teen pregnancies in the pandemic will be seen in the 2021 report.
“Looking at the bigger picture, Nairobi could be at the top of the pyramid because most deliveries are done at a facility,” Kaugiria told the Star on phone Thursday.
An earlier report commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta assessing the impact of Covid-19 on teenagers found that the major drivers of teen pregnancy include sexual violence and inadequate reproductive health information and services.
Also, forced marriage, poverty, lack of parental guidance and peer pressure.
The report said that ending adolescent pregnancy requires a multi-sectoral approach.