Folks, our country is moving too fast and things are happening at a rate that exceeds the imagination of many citizens.
Today, let’s reflect on the population boom as estimates indicate that Malawi’s population will be around 21.2 million next year.
Of big concern, however, are reports of increased pregnancies, marriages and HIV and Aids infections among adolescents or teens due to either their inactiveness or negligence in addition to promiscuous tendencies by some full-grown men and women.
Not long ago authorities at Zomba district health office (DHO) revealed that at least 16 people out of every 100 there had HIV, a virus that causes Aids. The DHO further stated that the figure was particularly high among female sex workers and youths, especially learners at the University of Malawi—also known as the college that God loves the most.
This is not only a cause for concern among parents and guardians, but a big blow to the country’s efforts to fight the spread of the disease and end child marriages and pregnancies.
More worrying is the fact that these revelations came after we heard that scores of primary and secondary school-going girls in districts such as Mangochi, Nsanje, Chikwawa, Phalombe and Mzimba fell pregnant during the Covid-19 pandemic as they idled at home while schools were closed.
Now, most of these youths have been having open or secret intimate relationships in the past and continue to do so with people who could otherwise guide them having or no time at all to talk to them about such issues.
To some extent, there is parental negligence. Some parents do not care about their children and have no time following up on what they are up to, especially during this extended holiday.
The other day, one prominent education activist told us that his organisation reported at least 5 000 cases of teenage pregnancies in Phalombe district at the height of the pandemic, while over 500 girls entered into early marriages since March 2020.
What a shocking revelation to learn that even girls as young as 10 years were among those expectant. Further, not only boys and young men were responsible for this menace, but adults were involved and continue to do so until today.
Now, the question is what must we do as a nation to address such crises that stand in the way of our longterm 2063 development agenda? For how long must we keep singing the song of self-discipline, self-restraint and self-denial for our youth to embrace behaviour change?
For how long should we blame cultural beliefs and poverty as catalysts that push girls and boys into indulging into a rage of unprotected sexual encounters with their peers and adult lovers?
I also believe what we see and hear with our naked eyes and ears in terms of pregnancy and HIV and Aids statistics are but a tip of the iceberg.
Honestly, we all need to rise up as Malawians and help the government to reverse the direction that our country is gradually taking to curb the spread of HIV, unplanned pregnancies by youths and their early marriages.
Otherwise, the situation today spells trouble, trouble and more trouble for Malawi’s future and that of her generations!