Baby deaths: Young mothers need help

Aaron Motsoaledi says girls need easier access to family planning to stop the scourge of baby deaths.

Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: GCIS/SAPA

CAPE TOWN - Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said giving teenage girls easier access to family planning will prevent the deaths of young mothers and their babies

South Africa is battling to meet its millennium development goal of reducing the maternal mortality rate by the end of 2015.

The minister told Members of Parliament (MPs) that teenage mothers contribute to the high death rate.

He said that when young girls go to clinics asking for contraception, they are often told to get their mother's permission first.

"Every young person who looks for family planning will never ask for permission from their parents. I am sure you know."

But he said young girls are more likely to die in childbirth or have premature babies.

His department's poised to launch a major family planning campaign.

"Where does society come in when family planning starts? Will people be open to it?"

Motsoaledi is hoping attitudes will change to save lives.

Meanwhile, an 18-year-old Khayelitsha youth says she hopes other youngsters learn from her mistakes and don't fall pregnant.

Andisiwe Nomsenge on Wednesday spoke at the launch of the 2013 State of the World Population report.

According to the report 20,000 teenagers around the world become mothers every day.

In developing countries one in every five girls (about 19 percent) gives birth before she turns 18.

Nomsenge says girls should prioritise their studies.

"I don't want them to make the mistake I made. I sometimes wish that I'd waited."