I would like to believe that the aim of all written monologues is to incite dialogue. These dialogues can be inclusive of the thought source or in the absence thereof.
In my previous article I posted a question: is it time to “mass vaccinate” our children with contraceptives, with children in this context being adolescent female youth.
Although it is recommended for someone commenting to adhere to social trends and current affairs, teenage pregnancy is still a topic to write about and advocate against on the basis that teenage girls are still falling pregnant.
Those that have become teen moms still face the responsibility of raising an unplanned child and finding means to cater for the needs of the child. Lastly, the notion of using contraceptives is still raising eyebrows in some sections of Namibia. For these reasons and more, I still see it fitting to talk about teenage pregnancy.
Besides a few cyber-trolls, there were considerable engagements with people from across the country on various social media platforms on this topic. For the purpose of uninterrupted discourse I will attempt to condense the responses according to the different thematic areas that were discussed.
On contraceptive use: there appears to be insufficient information on contraception in terms of availability, as well as contra-indications or side effects when taking contraceptives. The birth control pill has been around for over 50 years and the pharmaceutical industry has bodies, such as the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), that regulate it to ensure that medication has meet set standards before being approved for the marketplace.
Besides the oral options, there are other methods, such as intra-uterine devices, that do not include hormonal injections or pill ingestion. The best option is to consult with the administering physician, so he/she can help you better understand the options available.
On access to contraceptives: another issue raised was the inability of young people to access contraceptives, because of fear of reprimands from health workers who have the responsibility of providing them with unbiased service, as well as confidentiality.
On that aspect, I was referred to an organisation called NAPPA, the National Planned Parenthood Association, which runs clinics that provide adolescent-friendly sexual reproductive health and rights services. They provide information on contraception, as well as HIV and AIDS and can be contacted on +264-61-230250.
On social responsibility: many responses gathered around the notion that sexual reproductive health is not advocated for enough, and some parents/guardians do not discuss with their children the consequences of unprotected sex. One suggestion made was that traditional authorities, as well as churches, need to become more active in encouraging parents/guardians to talk with their adolescent children about sexual intercourse and the consequences thereof, such HIV and STIs.
To conclude the Namibian response, dialogue about the important topic of sexual reproductive health needs not be provoked, but should be had in all households.
There is a difference between rights and responsibilities. The adolescent girl should have the right to access sexual reproductive services without intimidation or stigmatisation. The adolescent girl should be aware of her choices and should be empowered to exercise those choices.
It is all our responsibility, from the policy maker to the teacher, the pastor to the traditional leader, parents, neighbours, family and friends, even strangers, to ensure that the Namibian adolescent girl is aware of the responsibility that comes with the choices she makes.
Pregnancy should not be circumstantial. Therefore, we all must advocate for planned parenthood.