Eastern Province acting Permanent Secretary Royd Tembo has described the report of over 12,000 teenage pregnancies recorded in the province between January and June this year as regrettable.

Speaking during the Inter-generational dialogue meeting for faith, traditional and key stakeholders on child marriages and teen pregnancies in Chipata, Tuesday, Dr Tembo said that it was sad to note that girls were still victims of child marriages in Zambia and particularly in Eastern Province.

“It is regrettable to hear the report from the Provincial Health Office that Eastern Province, between January and June 2021, had recorded 12,982 teenage pregnancies”, Dr Tembo lamented.

Dr Tembo said 400 of these teenage pregnancies were in girls below the age of 15 while the rest were between 15 and 19 years old.

He said it was also sad to note that girls were still victims of child marriages in Zambia.

“According to records, at least 39 per cent of girls are married off at the age of 18, which is a sad development”, he said.

Dr Tembo said the tendency of marrying off girls was anchored on social norms which had no consideration of the long term negative effects of child marriages.

“It is evident that girls who are forced into marriage are put at risk of death or injury during child birth”, Dr Tembo stated.

The acting Permanent Secretary said risks of child marriages perpetuated the cycle of poverty and prevented young people from contributing and benefiting from socio-economic development in society.

And Chief Madzimawe of the Ngoni people of Kasenengwa district said there was need for an effective, common approach, which all stakeholders could in the fight against child marriages and teenage pregnancies in Eastern Province.

Chief Madzimawe wondered why the province was not making progress in the fight against teenage pregnancies and child marriages despite efforts by stakeholders to end the vice.

He noted that the issue of teenage pregnancies and child marriages was one which stakeholders had been interrogating for quite some time.

The traditional leader wondered why the province was still in reverse gear on the issue even when resolutions had been reached on how to end child marriages and teenage pregnancies.

“This meeting should also provide us with a platform where we should also look at where we are failing and why we have not recorded the progress as expected,” said Chief Madzimawe.