YouthNet and Counselling (Yoneco), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), has bemoaned teenage pregnancies and early marriages in Phalombe District following the closure of schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The concern comes after the district registered 30 teenage pregnancies and 83 early marriages between January and May this year.
In an interview yesterday, Yoneco programme support manager Dunleck Pande said the figures were alarming.
He said: “Some parents are failing to control children at home.
“Secondly, some girls are failing to access contraceptives from health centres due to restriction of movement in the face of Covid-19 pandemic.”
However, in a separate interview, Phalombe District social welfare officer Victor Kachoka attributed the cases to some cultural practices and peer pressure among teenagers.
“But with support from organisations such as Yoneco and Save the Children, we are working hard to reduce the cases,” he said.
Traditional Authority (T/A) Nazombe described the situation as worrisome.
She said: “My fellow chiefs and I are worried with the figures. I know this is happening largely because schools are closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Most children have nothing to do and instead, indulge in risky behaviour.”
One of the parents, Margaret Chiphwanya from T/A Nazombe urged authorities to put measures in place to protect girls.
“They should reach out to more girls with sexual and reproductive health services before the situation gets out of hand,” she said.
Meanwhile, chiefs in the district have appealed to parents to stop marrying off children.
Schools in the country have remained closed since March 23 this year following declaration of a State of National Disaster in the face of coronavirus pandemic.