According to the National Aids Control Council (NACC) report, some 20,363 children below 14 years of age gave birth in public hospitals last year after being defiled. The youngest mothers were aged 10 years.
The report, released by NACC chair Angeline Siparo, shows that thousands of children were also infected with HIV. The crisis is worse for those aged 15 to 19 years.
“The same data showed us that for the girls aged 15-19, a total of 378,665 had been attended to in our health facilities as pregnant mothers,” Siparo said in a statement.
Data analysis suggests that most HIV-positive children between 10-19 years were infected through sex rather than at birth.
The Ministry of Health says deaths from HIV-complications in this age bracket are also growing. In 2019, deaths among children and adolescents accounted for 21 percent (4,333) and 11 percent (2,275) of all Aids-related deaths respectively.
“In 2019, the council noted with a sad note that a total of 6,247 children and adolescents aged 10 to 19 were newly-infected with HIV,” Siparo said.
The ministry says this is alarming because the two groups are a small share of all people living with HIV in Kenya.
“Paediatrics and adolescents account for seven percent (106,807) and six percent (91,634) of all people living with HIV respectively,” said Health CS Mutahi Kagwe on Tuesday during the World Aids Day in Kajiado.
Nairobi has the highest number of girls aged 10 to 14 years impregnated last year, followed by Kajiado according to Siparao. She lamented the country continues to turn a blind eye to the crisis, yet there are laws to deal with it.
The Sexual Offences Act provides that a person found guilty of defiling a child aged between 12 and 15 be jailed for not less than 20 years while whoever has sex with those between 16 and 18 years gets a minimum of 15 years.
Full figures for 2020 are not yet available, but the health policy research group, African Institute for Development Policy, says at least 151,000 girls of 10 to 19 years were defiled and impregnated between January and May this year.
The actual figures for 2019 are higher because the data captured only those who attended antenatal clinics.
According to the NGO, KHIS data only captures cases reported in the health sector and so it is possible that there are many other pregnant girls who are not counted because they have not been to the health centers.