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Clerics Start Campaign Against Teenage Pregnancies in Acholi Sub Region

The clerics said that teenage pregnancy is retarding the development, growth, future, and health of young girls in the country.
Congestion at the children`s ward in Lalogi Health Centre IV. Photo by Emmy Daniel Ojara

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The Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) has started a campaign to rid the Acholi Sub-region of teenage pregnancies. 

On Thursday, the clerics said that teenage pregnancy is retarding the development, growth, future, and health of young girls in the country.  

Statistics from different health departments and civil societies indicate a high prevalence of teenage pregnancies in the area stating that it spiked during the covid-19 lockdown.   The numbers recorded between the years 2019 and 2021 put the number at approximately 20,000. 

The majority are school girls who were home due to the closure of all learning institutions in the country.   

The clerics under the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) on Thursday converged at Golden Peace Hotel in Gulu City seeking to identify problems affecting development in the area and how the government and all stakeholders can be tasked to address them.   

They unanimously agreed that teenage pregnancies require a concerted effort to get rid of them.  

Sheikh Musa Khalil, the Acting Northern Regional Deputy Mufti says that all clerics have been tasked to preach against teenage pregnancies during masses and services.   

Khalil explained that the constant message against teenage pregnancies and early marriage will be extended to all gatherings within different locations where the clerics will be invited to officiate.  

//Cue in: ‘’man wan ma…   

Cue out: …ma nongo orwate.’’//   

Reverend Margaret Aciro, of the Pentecostal Churches of Uganda, noted that they will incorporate sexual education and spiritual holiness in their preaching to instill discipline and morality among young people.   

Rev. Aciro added that regular conferences and engagements with young people will also be organized to pass sexual education, healthy lifestyles, and experience sharing from survivors of sexual abuse.  

//Cue in: ‘’wan ma calo…   

Cue out: …kare gi mako.’’//  

Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu Catholic Diocese on the other hand noted that all religious leaders will be tasked to play roles within their different capacities.   

Through IRCU, the clerics also noted that the resolution will be tabled before the different government agencies to have them incorporated into their policies as part of the national action plan.   

In order to ensure the success of the initiative, the clerics have been joined by the Uganda Aids Commission and UN Women.   

Gloria Anena, a Senior Clinical Officer and Deputy Administrator of Lalogi Health Centre IV told URN in a recent interview that 50% of children brought to the health facility have some level of malnutrition.   

The children are mostly mothered by teenagers who can neither fend for themselves nor have the basic skills for taking good care of young babies.   

Among them is a 16-year-old girl in Gulu City who says she was raped by a 36-year-old man.   

The teenage mother who only identified herself as Atim was in primary six in one of the schools in their area last year when she was victimized in June last year.   

Atim comes from a poor family and is under the care of a disabled father, she teary told URN that she can hardly provide for her one-year-old baby boy born from sexual abuse.