ANALYSIS: A lot ado concerning the fallacious numbers – decoding Kenya’s teen being pregnant ‘surge’
With colleges in Kenya closed till 2021, mother and father could be forgiven for being apprehensive following an avalanche of native experiences a couple of “spike” in teenage pregnancies.
To not be left behind, worldwide media reported “a surge” and claimed the nation “has for lengthy grappled with excessive teenage being pregnant charges”.
The ensuing fierce debate a couple of “disaster” noticed the president and his ministers wade in. The Nationwide Crime Analysis Centre, a state company, is now investigating the difficulty.
However Africa Test discovered these claims are severely undermined by weak information.
Apparently, regardless of a marketing campaign in opposition to teenage being pregnant having been launched earlier within the yr, the controversy ignited after a June 2020 on-line information story reported that 4,000 schoolgirls had develop into pregnant since March within the jap Kenya county of Machakos. Kenyan colleges have been closed since March to stem the unfold of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The determine was attributed to the county youngsters’s officer commenting on the Worldwide Day of the African Little one. Africa Test has requested the official to make clear their remarks and we’ll replace this text after we obtain a response.
Well being ministry claims numbers ‘exaggerated, outrageous’
Kenya’s well being ministry, nonetheless, refuted the figures. The numbers have been “exaggerated, outrageous and don’t mirror the precise statistics”, it mentioned, estimating the right variety of pregnant youngsters as “a 3rd” of the instances reported within the media.
The ministry’s chief administrative secretary mentioned the Machakos information had been “inaccurately extrapolated”. The 4,000 determine did “not characterize the numerical rely of particular person youngsters presenting to the clinic” with new pregnancies, mentioned Dr Mercy Mwangangi. As a substitute it was of “a number of visits” of pregnant women to hospitals, Alfred Mutua, the governor of Machakos county, mentioned.
The ministry mentioned: “This not at all means that we would not have an issue in our arms. As a matter of reality, teenage being pregnant stays a world problem, and Kenya is not any exception.”
In line with Kenya’s 2019 inhabitants census, there have been 153,974 women aged 10 to 19 in Machakos county, which had a inhabitants of 1.4 million. Nationally, some 5.7 million women have been of this age.
The United Nations in flip claimed 152,000 women in Kenya turned pregnant within the three months because the begin of the nationwide lockdown. The UN reported this was “a 40% enhance within the month-to-month common”.
Why is the information that’s key to the controversy so complicated? We went in quest of solutions.
Machakos figures right, however don’t present enhance
The info about teenage pregnancies in Machakos was drawn from the Kenya well being data system. This technique will get information from well being amenities within the nation’s 47 counties and works on an open-source software program platform utilized in 54 nations. Entry to the database is set by the well being ministry.
This technique is the “most important and most common supply of routine well being information for the nation and it’s utilized in all counties,” Dr Bernard Onyango instructed Africa Test. He’s a senior analyst with coverage assume tank African Institute for Improvement Coverage and has expertise in demographic and well being surveillance analysis.
Onyango confirmed the figures for Machakos county have been as reported within the media. However the information, which covers ages 10 to 19, additionally confirmed there wasn’t a nationwide enhance in teenage pregnancies within the first 5 months of 2020 when in comparison with 2019. Kenyan regulation defines a toddler as anybody below 18.
For Machakos, there was really a lower through the first 5 months of the yr, from 4,710 in 2019 to the reported 3,966 in 2020. Nationally teenage pregnancies additionally fell, from 175,000 in 2019 to 151,000 in 2020. That is near the 2020 determine reported by the UN, although it doesn’t again up the company’s declare that it represents “a 40% enhance within the month-to-month common”.
The numbers are described as youngsters “presenting with being pregnant”, Onyango mentioned. “This implies a pregnant individual went to a well being facility and the ability recorded the being pregnant.”
There’s a important caveat with these numbers, specialists instructed Africa Test.
“The info doesn’t seize all pregnancies as a result of not all folks go to well being amenities. Second, it isn’t clear whether or not the women have been there for his or her first visits or for subsequent visits,” mentioned Onyango.
Dr Yohannes Wado specialises in inhabitants and reproductive well being on the African Inhabitants and Well being Analysis Heart in Nairobi. He flagged the identical considerations.
“The info from the well being data system solely captures details about individuals who go to well being amenities or instances which might be reported. As a result of not all people goes to well being amenities, the information could also be incomplete or … there could also be the potential for overcounting when somebody makes a number of visits for a similar service,” Wado mentioned.
The well being ministry mentioned that due to the excessive dangers related to teen pregnancies, teen moms are suggested “and often make” a number of visits to well being clinics.
However the ministry additionally argued that as a result of teenage moms tended to go to well being amenities when their being pregnant was superior, it was unlikely that the closure of colleges had led to any rise in reported pregnancies.
What results in information deficiencies?
Samuel Cheburet is head of the civil registration and very important statistics unit on the ministry. He mentioned that how the information was collected led to uncertainty.
The info assortment device “ought to seize solely a brand new adolescent being pregnant” but it surely didn’t, leading to double counts, he instructed Africa Test in an e mail.
Different authorities officers, just like the minister for social companies Simon Chelugui, have additionally reportedly mentioned that the dearth of coherent information is a priority.
What does the newest and dependable information present?
For the newest dependable information on teenage pregnancies it’s a must to return six years.
The Kenya Demographic and Well being Survey 2014 targeted on teenage women aged 15 to 19 years. Childbearing begins early in Kenya, the survey mentioned, with nearly 1 / 4 of girls giving delivery by age 18 and practically half by age 20.
Revealed in December 2015, it discovered that 18%, or about one in each 5, of this age group was pregnant or had had a toddler. This proportion had not modified because the earlier survey was carried out in 2008/09. This explicit statistic has additionally been extensively cited within the media.
The survey added that “the share of girls who’ve begun childbearing will increase quickly with age, from about 3% amongst these age 15 to 40% amongst these age 19”.
Solely one other demographic and well being survey can have newer data, Zachary Mwangi, the director normal of Kenya’s nationwide statistics workplace, instructed Africa Test. He confirmed the company didn’t have more moderen information.
Since 1989, the demographic and well being survey has been carried out at intervals of between 4 and 6 years. The subsequent version is deliberate for the present monetary yr 2020/21, Mwangi mentioned.
How does Kenya evaluate internationally?
World Financial institution information, citing demographic survey information for teenage moms aged 15-19, offers an analogous determine of 19% for Kenya. The info is incomplete, however a verify reveals there are a selection of different nations with a lot greater shares.
Of the nations with information from 2014, these embrace Mozambique (46%), Sierra Leone (36%) Madagascar (39%), Mali, Chad (each 36%), Angola (35%), Liberia (34%) Bangladesh (31%), DR Congo (27%) and Burkina Faso (25%).
|Adolescents worry hospital visits
The World Well being Group, or WHO, recommends that pregnant ladies go to a hospital at the least eight occasions throughout a being pregnant to cut back perinatal mortality. Earlier than 2016 the well being company really useful 4 visits.
Older teenagers nonetheless in danger from being pregnant
The out there information consists of these aged 18 and 19, who’re legally adults in Kenya. Why is there concern about pregnancies at this age?
“These below 20 usually tend to have untimely deliveries and different issues for causes together with an underdeveloped pelvis and dietary deficiencies,” Onyango instructed Africa Test.
“The chance is probably not as excessive in comparison with youthful ages, however it’s nonetheless a priority.”
Onyango additionally cited the socio-economic penalties. “For instance, a being pregnant for an 18- or 19-year-old lady might curtail her schooling, in comparison with a boy the identical age.
This results in gender inequalities at ranges of upper schooling and ramifications for future earnings, he mentioned. The World Financial institution provides that infants of adolescent moms are additionally extra prone to have low delivery weight, which may have a long-term affect on their well being and growth.
To ensure that public debate to be nicely knowledgeable and for coverage interventions on such an essential challenge to be efficient, it’s central that the difficulty of incoherent and poor high quality information is addressed.
– Extra reporting by Alphonce Shiundu
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