Health facilities in Bundibugyo District are grappling with a concerning rise in the number of teenage girls seeking antenatal care services, a surge attributed to rampant cases of defilement.
According to Ms. Pamela Adongo, the district probation officer, between January and July this year, 2,194 girls sought antenatal care, a number likely underreported as many choose traditional birth attendants over health facilities.
Ms. Adongo emphasized the urgency of combating defilement, revealing that 3,000 teenage pregnancies were recorded in the previous year, indicating a disturbing trend of early marriages.
She criticized parents for neglecting their responsibilities, leaving girls vulnerable to defilement, with some cases being resolved domestically.
Bishop Barnabas Tibaijuka of West Ruwenzori Diocese highlighted the adverse impact on girls’ educational prospects, urging unified efforts against child abuse.
Mr. Moses Bagambe, Ngamba Sub-county councillor, called for targeted education on protective measures against unwanted pregnancies.
Acknowledging a higher rate of teenage pregnancies in rural areas, he stressed the need for comprehensive guidance beyond abstinence.
Health worker Ms. Joy Tumusime at Bukangama Health Centre III emphasized special care for young pregnant girls to ensure safe delivery.
Mr. Franklin Muhindo, executive director of Inclusion and Humanity Hand-to-Hand Initiative, advocated for collaborative efforts, including the enforcement of policies and laws to end defilement.
Societal intolerance and poverty-driven child marriages were cited as persistent challenges.
The district vice chairperson, Mr. Joel Bwambale, proposed the establishment of a District Action Center to combat child abuse and ensure the prosecution of perpetrators.