Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Teenage pregnancies and HIV infections show sharp increase

Botswana’s single women aged 25 years and below are the highest contributors to new HIV infections statistics in most districts across the country, says Dr Lesego Gabaitiri. Addressing delegates at the National AIDS Council meeting in Gaborone on interventions and policy direction, Gabaitiri said the 25 years and below group constituted 16 per cent of new infections in Gaborone, Central Serowe, Central Mahalapye, Chobe and Ghanzi and over 40 per cent in Francistown and Kgatleng.

In his assessment of the situation, he stated that this was mainly a result of lower condom use and early sexual practice. The news comes in the wake of another report which states that teenage pregnancies in Botswana have recorded a significant increase and rural Batswana teens are reportedly not getting sufficient formal instruction about birth control methods. Although Botswana adopted a policy shift from abstinence to Birth control education ÔÇô the severity of the problem is not showing signs of improvement.

This new development is likely to cast aspersions on some of the programmes that Botswana has proffered to fight teen pregnancies. Even though programs to prevent teen pregnancy have received government’s funding in recent years, their scope may not be broad enough to have had a significant national impact, researchers say.

Some of these programmes are Botswana National Life Skills Framework (2010), a guiding document for life skills programmes for pre-primary, primary and secondary school levels for ages four to 18 years.  The guidance and Counselling Curriculum Guidelines/ Syllabi is designed and developed to comprehensively address sexuality education at these different levels both at lower primary, upper primary, junior and senior secondary levels and integration and infusion of sexuality education across the curriculum. 

The minister of Basic Education Unity Dow once admitted that teenage pregnancies were a problem, but also said the country was milestones ahead in the provision of life skills based education explaining that her approach was considerate of content relevance that was age appropriate and thorough in sexuality education. 

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