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Malawi limps on SRH SDG target

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James Kadadzera

A research conducted by Kamuzu College of Nursing has shown that it will be difficult for Malawi to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3 (target 7) which tackles the promotion of universal access to sexual and reproductive health services by 2030.

The paper, which was presented during an online Covid-19 research dissemination conference organised by College of Medicine, indicates that the goal would hardly be attained because adolescent girls continue being sexually exploited in the country.

“According to [SDG III] (target 7), universal access to sexual and reproductive health services should be attained by 2030. However, this goal will hardly be attained by adolescent girls in Malawi who are at risk with a 50 percent child marriage rate, 29 percent teenage pregnancy rate and 20 percent of girls experiencing sexual abuse before age of 18.

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“With the presence of Covid-19 pandemic, there was limited access to reproductive health services for adolescent girls in Malawi and this has exacerbated the situation,” reads part of the paper.

It states that cases of child rape increased by 150 percent from April to June as compared with the same period in 2019.

“Six hundred and sixty-nine child marriages were recorded from April to June 2020, with an increase rate of 83 percent compared with 2019 data. Child rape increased by 150 percent when compared with 2019 statistics,” the report adds.

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The paper also indicates that about 1,000 teenage pregnancies were recorded in Phalombe District while 400 teen pregnancies were recorded in Mzimba and 324 in Nsanje during the Covid-19 period.

The paper shows higher figures were reported in Mangochi with 7,274 pregnancies, a rise from 1,000 pregnancies recorded in 2019. At least 166 pregnant girls were aged between 10 and 14.

Malawi Police Services spokesperson James Kadadzera said everyone who was involved in the malpractice would be brought to book.

“Police are ready to arrest people that were involved in the malpractice. We are calling upon everyone who has information on child rape to report the issue to the police. We will arrest the perpetrators,” Kadadzera said.

The conference enabled local and international research scientists, public health professionals and policy makers to showcase, discuss and reflect on the Covid-19 pandemic and how research output can be used to contain the pandemic.

The aim of the research was to examine the impact of Covid-19 on adolescent girls’ sexual and reproductive health in Malawi.

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