By JOHN SAKALA
‘Child marriage makes girls vulnerable to health risks of early pregnancy and child-birth complications including fistula,’ President Edgar Lungu has said.
Speaking during the high level event on the implementation of the African common position on ending child marriage in Africa Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Mr Lungu called for need to protect girl child.
He said the babies born from girls married are also vulnerable to complications associated with premature labour.
The President said that United Nations report shows that complications from pregnancy and child-birth are the leading causes of death of girls aged between 15-19 years in developing countries.
He said the cause for vice range from poverty as the main driver, limited access to social programmes, services and employment opportunities, prohibitive cost of secondary schooling, teenage pregnancy and inadequate social support.
Mr Lungu said child marriage was widespread, with higher rates in Africa, Zambia included, and it leads to a lifetime of disadvantage and deprivation.
The strategy is aimed at accelerating national efforts to ending child marriage by 2030 through the provision of an operational framework that reflects trends and efforts focusing on prioritized thematic areas.
“The support rendered through the African Union (AU) campaign to end child marriage in Africa has enhanced awareness on the negative effects of this scourge, at individual, community and national levels. It has also contributed to increased institutionalisation of the fight against child marriage in member states through the development of national strategies. This is commendable.
“I am happy to note that Zambia is among the countries currently implementing a multi-sectoral strategy to end child marriage and I’m aware that similar efforts are being made in several other AU member states. It is a shame that Africa is home to 15 out of the 20 countries with the highest prevalence of child marriage,” he said.
But he was quick to point out at the strides made.
The President said Zambia had reduced from 42 per cent to 31 per cent between 2007 and 2016 due to the administrative, policy and legislative measures that we have put in place to end this scourge.
“Some of the interventions we have so far undertaken include establishment of a consortium of government ministries and civil society organisations on ending child marriage. Through this consortium, institutional and organisational gate-keepers on ending child marriage were appointed.
“Zambia has developed a national strategy on ending child marriage. The national strategy was launched in March 2016 and will be implemented over a period of five (5) years,” he said.