While a booming 17.4 million population figure already scares the few resources Malawi has, sex education remains inadequate.
Meanwhile, adolescent girls and boys—with new features appearing on their bodies such as facial hair deep voices, breasts and pimples—grow up experimenting with their ravaging emotions.
Marriage counsellor Inkosi Chimalizeni says that pregnancies are contributing to the alarming growth rate of the population.
He observes that the most important aspect was to trace the root cause of the problem
“Parents have become negligent. For all these pregnancies, parents must take responsibility,” he said.
He notes that the home is the biggest class as children should be trained while young.
Chimalizeni argues that parents should take the initiative of explaining to their children what is going on in their lives and their body changes.
“We are shy to tell them about reproductive health. Tell them sex is a good thing, only it is for married people,” he says.
He says parents have a tendency of attributing issues to peer pressure.
His belief is that pregnancies and the population boom is not the governments’ problem alone, but families, too.
The counsellor observes that teenagers lack knowledge about condom use or abstinence.
Temwa Chirembo, sexual reproductive health advocate for Ukani Malawi, says most teen mothers do not know much about sex, expectancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
“It is evident from my interaction with them that they got information late. They lacked guidance, as a result made uniformed decisions,” she says
She adds that five girls were chased out of their parents’ homes after falling pregnant and they now live on their own.
According to Chirembo, their parents were bitter and didn’t want anything to do with them.
The danger, she says, is that most of these girls continue engaging in risky behaviour to eat, buy necessities and care for their babies.
She observes that some of the girls are as young as 14— in Standard Five or Six and they cannot be expected to fend for themselves.
The case of the five girls that were disowned, she says are an indication of strong disapproval of premarital pregnancies, however she highlights that the minute boys and girls hit puberty sexual and reproductive health education must be taken up by parents.
Monitoring and evaluation coordinator at Family Planning Association of Malawi (Fpam), Dziwani Kambauwa says that the right age to start telling a child about sexual reproductive health is 10.
In her view, youths should access sexual reproductive health or family planning services, which is a preventive measure to pregnancies.
However, she notes that youths are stigmatised in public hospitals, which is the reason why Fpam hospitals adopted youth friendly services. n