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Have Teenage Pregnancies in DR Congo Increased Due to COVID-19 Containment Measures?

Have Teenage Pregnancies in DR Congo Increased Due to COVID-19 Containment Measures?

Peris Gachahi

A tweet shared this article dated June 2020 by a Congolese blog which claimed a rise in teenage pregnancies in South Kivu. The blog, which is in French, has the headline in the screenshot above, which has been translated by Google.

https://twitter.com/SORAZIZ/status/1275003051355635716

The article attributes the teenage pregnancies to coronavirus confinement measures as copied below:

In all 2,964 pupils aged 12 to 16 years living in a county of South Kivu, became pregnant during the confinement decreed to fight against the Coronavirus.

Well, we can say that it paid off; except that it is rather a fruit that ripens in the belly (laughs). All this not to tell you all that many students became pregnant during this period. A total of 3,964 pupils aged 12 to 16 years living in South Kivu became pregnant during the confinement decreed to fight against the Coronavirus.

Note the change of figures from 2,964 to 3,964 in the second paragraph above.

Background

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, governments across the world have moved with haste to implement measures to contain the spread of the virus. Among these measures has been the closure of all learning institutions.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 12 million girls aged 15–19 years and at least 777,000 girls under 15 years give birth each year in developing regions.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the third most populous country in sub-Saharan Africa, has one of the highest fertility rates in the world and is one of the few countries where the current fertility rate is greater than it had been in the 1950s. From a report on the second-largest Ebola virus outbreak that began in Kivu in July 2018, teenage pregnancy in DRC contributes to these metrics as 27% of women aged 15–19 have begun childbearing.

Verification

A search for the keywords, ‘3964 teenage pregnancies in South Kivu during coronavirus’ yields no results that can support the claim in question.

From the search, however, the same figure appears in an article from a local news outlet from Kenya dated June 17, 2020:

See Also

According to the article above, the figure is specific to teenage pregnancies in Machakos County over the last 5 months, as revealed by a new Kenya Health Information System survey. The rising numbers have been linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and the following breakdown of the figures per Sub County have been provided in the screenshot below:

Kenya’s Citizen TV also broadcasted the alarming number of teenage pregnancies in Machakos County on June 17, 2020.

On June 18, the Ministry of Education distanced itself from the rising figures. The Cabinet Secretary for Education, Prof. George Magoha, blamed pornographic sites for the high rate of teenage pregnancies, calling for the sites to be banned.

During the daily COVID-19 update by the Ministry of Health on June 23, the Chief Administrative Secretary for Health, Dr Mercy Mwangangi, reported that from their review of the data, for which the veracity has been questioned, they have found it to be ‘inaccurate’ but are working closely with counties to provide youth-friendly clinics for the teenagers affected.

Verdict

The numbers on teenage pregnancies given in the claim are misleading and not from the DRC but Kenya, making the claim FALSE.

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