As everyone gets in the mood of festivity, the KwaZulu-Natal health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo warns all youngsters not to be part of province’s “September baby” phenomenon.
Speaking on Thursday, ahead of the Yuletide season Sibongiseni Dhlomo told youths not to have sex during December, but if they must, they should use extra contraception.
This, according to him, is so they don’t become part of those expecting babies come September next year.
The KwaZulu-Natal health department gave a data analysis that shows that more babies were delivered during September than in any other month between 2013 and 2015.
“We are always concerned – not just in December, but in any time of the year, when young people fall pregnant at a young age because it is very unsafe.
“If you’re a young person under the age of 18, and you’re delivering a child weighing 3.8kg for instance, chances of delivering safely are slim. It actually places the mother’s own life and the baby’s in danger.” said Sibongiseni Dhlomo, adding that he was concerned that out of the one million babies born countrywide each year, 8%, or 80 000, are delivered by teenagers.
He went on to appeal to youngsters to always pause and consider the consequences of their actions during this festive period.
“It is no secret that‚ during the school holidays and the festive season‚ many young people may be tempted to experiment with new and dangerous things. This includes substance and alcohol abuse‚ and unprotected sex‚ which may have adverse and long-lasting effects on their lives‚” he said.
“We are saying to them, ‘[Do not allow temporary fun] during the holidays to disturb your progress in life. If you have unprotected sex now, you will be a mother come September’.” He said as he also alerts them of the dangers of being exposed to sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS.
He said research has shown that people who have unplanned babies at a young age are likely to have even more children and they are at risk of dying way before their time.
He encouraged the public, including community leaders and educators in the classroom, to speak about sex openly, saying it could lead to a discussion that might prevent life-altering and deadly consequences.