State Minister for Gender and Culture, Peace Mutuuzo, has attributed the skyrocketing levels of teenage pregnancies in Uganda to too many unregulated energy drinks on the market.
Mutuuzo says various energy drinks disguise alcohol as energy drinks to lure customers into buying. She adds that this is the reason men get exhilarated, hence the increased pregnancies.
The Minister has downplayed suggestions from politicians, local and religious leaders, human and child rights activists, among other stakeholders that increasing teenage pregnancies are as a result of the Covid-19 situation and the closure of schools.
“When we see our young girls getting pregnant, it’s not because of Covid, it’s more of these drinks and energy drinks put on the market without necessarily analyzing them and their content,” she added.
The minister, who was speaking at the budget conference for Bunyangabu District at Kibiito District headquarters where she represents as a Member of Parliament, asked the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) to intervene and regulate these drinks.
“These days there are many energy drinks on the market and our people are being deceived that they give manpower. You ask yourself, man power for what? Are they planning a war? In the evening when they get intoxicated, they don’t spare our young girls. Is it morally right to disguise alcoholic drinks as energy drinks? Are we short of energy?” she wondered.
According to the Ministry of Health, 25 percent of Ugandan teenagers become pregnant by the age of 19. Close to half are married before their 18th birthday and continue having babies into their mid-40s. The situation has been worsened by the continued closure of schools, which has escalated sexual abuse in communities countrywide.
Reports show that 90,000 girls under 18 have gotten pregnant during this period when they were not going to school.
A recent survey by Twaweza, an NGO which promotes education countrywide, said at least 80% of Ugandans are worried about teenage pregnancy at epidemic proportions during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
In a recent address, education minister, Janet Museveni, urged parents to educate and protect their daughters.
“I will not get tired of reminding you (parents) to always keep an eye on your children so that they do not get pregnant during this lockdown,” she said.