TB HIV Care, in partnership with the eThekwini Municipality, launched the ‘0% Learner Pregnancy’ campaign on 17 August 2023. The school-based campaign was officially launched by the eThekwini Municipality Mayor, His Worship Cllr Mxolisi Kaunda, at Isolemamba High School in Durban.
The initiative follows a spike in teenage pregnancy statistics in KwaZulu-Natal, which reported over 26 000 teenage pregnancies between December 2022 and April 2023.
The initiative seeks to combat teenage and learner pregnancies by fostering an environment that empowers young girls to stay in school until Matric. This launch is a collaborative commitment between TB HIV Care and the eThekwini Municipality to create a positive impact in the lives of learners.
The well-attended launch was led by the priority populations prevention (PPPrev) eThekwini management team that spearheaded the campaign. During the event, Ntombifuthi Luthuli said, “KZN reported 26 515 pregnancies of girls aged 10-19 from December 2022 to April 2023. Of those, 1 254 were aged 14 years or younger. The eThekwini district reported most pregnancies compared to other districts, and the PPPrev eThekwini team decided to launch this initiative to reduce the number of pregnancies.”
The SABC reported that teenage pregnancy is one of the main contributing factors to the high rate of school dropouts. Therefore, this initiative also aligns with the DREAMS comprehensive HIV prevention approach to keep girls in school so they can complete their secondary education.
The PPPrev team and the schools within their allocated clusters identified peer ambassadors in the two schools (Isolemamba and Masibambane High Schools) in Nsimibini, who are learner representatives from each grade. The learners are from grade 8 to grade 11 who were trained to become role models in their schools and support the learners in their respective grades to ensure that there is no pregnancy in their schools”, added Luthuli.
The campaign has placed a strong focus on empowering learners with agricultural resources to end food insecurity in communities where we are implementing the DREAMS Programme.
“Agricultural resources were donated to the schools as learners indicated during the dialogue that was held prior to the launch that they engage in sexual activities because they support their families. The schools will be supporting learners to start gardens so that vegetables are sent to those families in need”, explained Luthuli.
According to the World Health Organization, “Every year, an estimated 21 million girls aged 15–19 years in developing regions become pregnant, and approximately 12 million of them give birth.”
The campaign will also educate learners on family planning and contraceptives as a prevention method. This initiative will be implemented in all thirty clusters that the DREAMS programme is implemented in within the in eThekwini district.
“All women and girls at risk of an unintended pregnancy have a right to access emergency contraception, and these methods should be routinely included within all national family planning programmes”, highlights WHO.