“Currently there are far too many girls who leave school early and are subjected to violence, coerced sex, as well as falling under the trap of teenage pregnancy, at a risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases,” said Motsoaledi.
Motsoaledi was speaking to the community of Thulamahashe in Mpumalanga on Tuesday, during the first day of the three-day Rotary Family Health Days campaign.
“As a community you need to work together in ensuring the well-being of girls and young women. This also involves men and all the other key populations within the community.
“I call on all healthcare workers to provide young people with all the health services that they need. These should be provided without judgement by health workers, especially sexual and reproductive health services such as contraception, condoms and HIV testing, as well as post-violence care,” he said.
‘We need to do much better’
He said that Bushbuckridge is one of the 22 sub-districts that the health department has prioritised to have intensive engagement with young people.
“Interventions have already started to yield some benefits, as we have seen a decrease in the number of deliveries in girls [18 years old] and younger. In 2015, 1 417 girls under 18 in this sub-district had babies. In 2016, this figure decreased by 14% to 1 222.
“Clearly, while this is a start, we need to do much better. Children should not be having children,” he said.
“The three family days will help us to reduce HIV by testing and making sure people know their status. This will help them get on treatment as soon as possible if they test positive.
“Sexually transmitted diseases will also be reduced as condoms will be distributed,” said Motsoaledi.