KZN Health MEC's Valentine's Day message: Have no regrets, use condoms and available family planning option to avoid HIV infection and having babies with names like "Phutha Liyenzeka"

14 February 2021

With the mood of love swirling in the air thanks to Valentine's Day, KZN MEC for Health Ms Nomagugu Simelane has reminded amorous couples to practice safe sex in order to avoid any regrets - including a scramble for morning-after pills tomorrow; and the possibility of contracting a sexually-transmitted disease such as HIV and others.

With a plethora of family planning options available free of charge from public clinics and hospitals, the MEC says there should be no need for babies with names like "Valentine's" and "Phutha Liyenzeka" (Mistakes Happen) nine months from now.

A recent report by Statistics South Africa titled Unwanted Fertility in South Africa revealed that about 20% of pregnancies in the five years preceding the 2016 Demographic and Health Survey (including pregnancies at the time), happened when women were not planning on having children.

According to the report, the percentage of unwanted births increased from 17,3% in 1998 to 20,4% in 2016.

Furthermore, in a summary of a research project published on the SA Medical Journal, titled, "Predictors of unplanned pregnancies among female students at South African Technical and Vocational Education and Training colleges: Findings from the 2014 Higher Education and Training HIV and AIDS survey," academic scholars point out that unplanned pregnancies among youth pose a serious public health concern. They expose young women and their newborns to potential adverse health and social outcomes, including the likelihood of unsafe abortion, maternal depression and anxiety, premature birth and low birth weight.

"Additionally, unplanned pregnancies are socially disruptive and impact negatively on educational progress and future career prospects. Women with unintended pregnancies are likely to be less well educated and poorer than women without such pregnancies."

"Unplanned pregnancy occurs mainly as a result of contraceptive failure and inconsistent or non-use of contraceptives, including inconsistent use of condoms."

"A number of factors have been associated with unplanned or unintended pregnancies among youth. These include socio-economic, demographic and behavioural factors such as poor socio-economic status, age, living arrangements, peer pressure, sexual coercion, sex socialisation, unprotected sex, ignorance, and negative attitudes towards contraception."

In addition to a number of Departmental programmes aimed at promoting family planning, including those aimed at young people, MEC Simelane has used Valentine's Day to emphasise the message:

"Yes, Valentine's Day is here. But in the process of us being excited and happy, sexual responsibility is extremely important. It is important that those who are old enough to be sexually-active should take care of themselves. They must use protection. Men must use condoms, because they are available free of charge. The advantage now is also the fact that there are female condoms, which a woman has a right to put on if her partner does not want to use a male condom."

"So, we are saying to our people, in enjoying this day, do not get carried away. Let us be responsible, and not find ourselves with babies called Valentine's and Phutha Liyenzeka by November. In this day and age, Government has given us all the options to protect ourselves. There are pills, injections, implants and condoms that are meant to help us prevent an unplanned pregnancy and unwanted babies. Let's enjoy ourselves without any regrets."

Issued by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health

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This page last edited on 15 February, 2021

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