“The City of Cape Town’s health department is pleased to note a further decline in the rate of babies being born to teenagers,” mayoral committee member for health Siyabulela Mamkeli said in a statement.
According to statistics, 3316 babies were born to mothers aged 18 or younger in Cape Town in 2013, which accounted for 4.4 percent of all births recorded for that year. The data for 2014 showed that 2936, or 4.2 percent, of babies born fell within this category. This meant that the teen pregnancy rate in Cape Town had slowed from 5.3 percent in 2006 to 4.2 percent in 2014.
“This is good news and bears testament to the availability of contraception and education offered by a range of government and non-governmental partners,” Mamkeli said.
“I also believe it is proof that young people are taking more responsibility for their sexual and reproductive health – something that we have been highlighting for many years now and which is also a key theme for World Contraception Day later this week.”
World Contraception Day is held on September 26. The vision of the annual worldwide campaign is to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted. This is achieved through awareness drives so that young people can make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health.
Mamkeli said city health offered a range of contraceptives at its clinics across the city, including oral contraception, injectable contraception, intra-uterine devices, implanon, sterilisation, and condoms. Petogen, which was the three-month injection, was the most popular contraceptive at city clinics.
City health had also noticed an increase in the uptake of reproductive health services in the past financial year. This could be attributed to the wide range of options available to clients, but also the introduction of “fast lanes” for family planning clients at some clinics.
Their visits were managed via an appointment system which reduced waiting times. Where this service was not available, waiting times had the potential to influence whether clients returned for follow-up visits. Another problem was empowering women so that they could negotiate birth spacing with their partners and involve their partners in decisions around family planning, Mamkeli said.
“Contraception is an essential human right and, by law, health facilities are allowed to provide contraception to anyone 12 years or older, without parental consent.
“The reality is that many young children are experimenting. I would much rather that they use the proper protection than fall pregnant. Having an unplanned baby can have far-reaching consequences for a young mother, with her potential for self-growth and development being severely limited,” Mamkeli said.