The Ministry of Health has kicked off a campaign to reach out to more than 4,000 teen mothers and pregnant girls who have dropped out of school in Meru in the last five months.

According to the National Syndemic Diseases Control Council (NSDCC), out of 15,000 pregnant mothers who sought antenatal care in Meru between January and May this year, about 30 percent were teenagers.

Speaking during a two-day community dialogue forum on teenage pregnancies in Igembe Central, Public health principal secretary Mary Muthoni said the teen pregnancy crisis in Meru was largely due to menstrual poverty.

“The data on teenage pregnancies in Meru is alarming and disheartening. Most of the girls we have talked to link their pregnancies to menstrual poverty and other hygiene items.”

“They borrowed money from men for their hygiene and dignity only for the men to take advantage of them,” PS Muthoni said.

Meru recorded a decline in teen pregnancies from 10,500 in 2022 to 9,500 in 2023, accounting for 27 percent of all pregnancies.

Muthoni called for concerted efforts to ensure all pregnant girls are in school while those who have completed high school join colleges.

“The county government, national administration officers and the ministry of health will work together to ensure all teen mothers go back to school. I have directed the NSDCC to start a counselling programme before they go back to school,” Muthoni said.

NSDCC CEO Dr Ruth Masha

NSDCC CEO Dr Ruth Masha said they were engaging various stakeholders in Meru County to contain the high cases of sexual and gender based violence.

Tigania East, Tigania West, Igembe Central and Igembe North sub counties rank top in teenage pregnancies with more than 35 percent of all mothers being teenagers.


“The NSDCC is engaging communities in Meru because the high number of teen pregnancies, HIV infections and SGBV are worrying. In the last five months of this year, Igembe Central alone recorded 1700 teen mothers visiting Antenatal care clinics. We must reverse this trend,” Dr Masha said.

Meru County Health executive Dr George Mungania said several health facilities were overwhelmed by teen and adolescent mothers in need of cesarean section procedure.

In 2023, Meru County recorded 617 mothers aged between 10 and 14, with 219 of these coming from Tigania East sub county.

“In most cases, the adolescent mothers cannot deliver normally and must be taken to the theatre. Some of our hospital theatres are fully booked for teen mothers. This comes with a heavy resource burden because mothers below the age of 18 are not covered by the Linda Mama insurance,” Dr Mungania said.

He called for devolution of more resources to enhance prevention of the triple threat and cushion teen mothers during antenatal care.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here