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Parents slam Polihali project for children pregnancies

Polihali Project Manager Gerald Mokone

March 29, 2021 3 min read

3 min read

MOKHOTLONG - Access to quality reproductive health services, including contraception and sexually transmitted infection services play an important role in supporting the health and well-being of adolescents and promoting equity, parents in the Polihali area have said.

The parents have mixed emotions about the project which they argue is the reason behind the surge in teenage pregnancy and children dropping out of school in the area.

Other parents contend that the project has brought a lot of development in the area, as some residents who were not employed before now have jobs which have turned their lives around.

This emerged during a tour of the area on Friday by a team composed of personnel from the Lesotho Planned Parenthood Association (LPPA) in collaboration with the District AIDS Committee.

Both outfits held dialogues with communities living around the project, to assess the root causes of issues on prevention and management of among others early and unintended pregnancy as well as child marriage.  

One of the residents, ’Malillo Sebatana said they would among others like to be provided with community development programmes that would add a sense of social responsibility to the community, especially among the youth.

Even though there is no national programme whose primary mission is to reduce unintended pregnancies, Mrs Sebatana said several activities funded at state levels can have great relevance to unwanted pregnancies as they help to finance contraceptive services.

Again, she said community health centres, and migrant as well as rural health centres can also help to provide reproductive health services in various ways, appealing to the government for help.

“To manage the situation, there are successful strategies that could be used to prevent adolescent pregnancy, such as community programmes to improve social development, responsible sexual behaviour education, and improved contraceptive counselling and delivery,” she said.

Other parents argued that adolescents who may want to avoid pregnancies might not be able to do so due to knowledge gaps and misconceptions on how or where to obtain contraceptive methods as well as how to use them.

A youth from Mapholaneng, Molemong Ramosito told Metro that young adults in the area face barriers including access to contraceptives and sexual health services because they are young and unmarried.

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“Health workers are unwilling to provide us with such services and information. They make very clear that they cannot help us because we are young and unmarried,” she said.

But the Polihali Project Manager Gerald Mokone said following a feasibility study conducted with the purpose of minimising the environmental and sociological impact of the construction they have ensured that the community is well-informed about issues like teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and other relevant social matters.

“We learned that even before the arrival of the project in Mokhotlong, the district already had massive numbers of teenage pregnancies, high HIV infections and teenagers who dropped out of school for various reasons,” he said.  

The construction of the Polihali Dam and reservoir, water transfer tunnel and associated access roads, bridges, accommodation and telecommunications infrastructure have impacted most communities in Mokhotlong and adjoining districts.

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