Zimbabwe currently has the highest teenage fertility rate in the sub-Saharan Africa, according to a national study.
The research, quoted at a television report, showed that one in 10 girls, aged 15 to 19 years, become pregnant every year, which in some measure this event has been associated to cultural and religious practices.
The African nation has recorded from 500,000 to 700,000 pregnancies annually, and a fifth of them in this age group are a consequence of child marriage, said the report, which also expressed concern about statistics on maternal mortality (about 514 women died in 2016 giving birth, according to official statistics).
Zimbabwean representative at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Cheikh Cisse, warned that the problem ‘requires our urgent attention’, as pregnancy in adolescence potentially reduces opportunities for girls and young women.
A teenager could provide a contribution to her country ‘if she did not get married during her childhood, if she is not forced to drop out school or exposed to an unplanned pregnancy that puts her at high risk for illness,’ Cisse said.
About 20,000 young people under 18 years old are giving birth each day, in developing countries, a figure equivalent to 7.3 million births per year, UNFPA says.
There are 101 adolescent births per 1,000 women in southern Africa, an issue that ‘remains a major challenge worldwide,’ Cisse stressed.
Adolescent pregnancy has been one of the main factors contributing to maternal and infant mortality and to the vicious circle of poor health and poverty, the official said.