Year on year, the rate of babies born to moms under 18 years keeps falling.
While the data for 2015 has not been finalised yet, the City of Cape Town’s Health Directorate has announced that of the 69,908 live births recorded in 2015, 2,704 were to mothers under the age of 18. This accounted for 3,87% of all births, as outlined below.
"This is very good news indeed and I want to applaud our young women and men who are taking responsibility for their sexual health," says the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Health, Councillor Siyabulela Mamkeli.
"We need to stop clinging to the belief that young children will listen to us when we tell them to abstain. Ideally, yes, but the fact is that many are having sex and so it is our responsibility to make sure they do so responsibly. Looking at the figures, it is clear that more and more young people are taking that responsibility, but also that the interventions are hitting the mark," Mamkeli continues.
School outreach programmes seem to be effective
School outreach programmes have become a crucial intervention for City Health. "It is still a challenge to get some schools to agree to us engaging with their learners, but we are seeing greater willingness on the part of some and I commend those principals and school governing bodies," he says.
"Ignorance is no longer a defence – children need to learn their various subjects, but I believe that reproductive health is probably one of the most crucial aspects of life orientation. The more we educate our young people, the better choices they are able to make," he added.
City Health and its partners are hoping to provide reproductive health services to at least 40,000 young people in this fiscal year. Between July and September 2015, just over 10,500 young clients received this service.
Councillor Siyabulela Mamkeli addresses learners at Rocklands Secondary School in Mitchells Plain on Wednesday 13 April 2016.
City Health offers various contraceptive methods free of charge, including the pill, injection, intra-uterine devices and condoms. Clients are also able to be tested for sexually transmitted infections and HIV and receive appropriate counselling, treatment and care if required.
In 2015, more than 1,9 million female condoms were distributed in the eight City Health sub-districts, compared with 1,72 million in 2014. The directorate also distributed nearly 54 million male condoms and treated a total of 42,713 sexually transmitted infections, down from 43,190 in 2014.
"Our clinics are open for business and I invite anyone who needs advice or guidance around issues of reproductive help to get to their nearest clinic so our staff can help you make the right choices for your circumstances," says Councillor Mamkeli.Do you think this approach of sex awareness outreach programmes in schools and free contraception is a move in the right direction? Email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.