Education officials in Malawi’s Mangochi district are reporting over 7,000 teenage girls in the locality have gotten pregnant since the country’s government ordered the closure of schools some four months ago to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Speaking to reporters, Peter Malipa, the Youth Friendly Health Services Coordinator for the district, said the current figures are up by 1000 pregnant teenage girls in comparison to last year’s numbers around the similar period. Malipa added that 166 of the pregnant girls are as young as 10 and 14 years old.
The government of Malawi ordered the closure of schools in March. From that period onwards, the Phalombe township recorded 1000 pregnancies while the Mzimba and Nsanje townships recorded 400 and 324 respectively.
Reports indicate that officials from the landlocked country’s Ministry of Education have announced they are set to meet stakeholders over the course of the week to deliberate on the current crisis.
The director of the Civil Society Coalition on Education, Benedicto Kondowe, said the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected the lives of young women in the country, adding that the period has also seen a spike in gender-based violence, exploitation, as well as other kinds of abuse against adolescent girls, Nyasa Times further reports.
The directive to close schools was issued by the Malawian government even before the southeastern African country recorded its first COVID-19 case. The country has so far recorded over 3,700 cases with over 100 deaths and over 1,600 recoveries.