A 2017 United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report indicates that the premature birth rate for Malawi continues to increase.
Authorities are being pressed to ensure that proper Antenatal care is provided, for premature birth rates to reduce.
The report singles out the current levels of child marriage, as the main contributor to rising premature birth rates.
It further states that in developing countries like Malawi, 14.2 million girls marry annually.
Young girls’ reproductive organs are not fully developed to embrace pregnancy and this can result in premature birth.
Complications of pregnancy and childbirth are also the leading cause of death in young women aged 15-19.
Child marriage is a global issue and most child marriages take place in rural sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
In sub-Saharan Africa more than one third of young women are married by their 18th birthday.
There are fears that this will continue to increase the expanding youth population.
Malawi is amongst the 10 countries with the highest rates of child marriage, currently at 50%.
Commenting on the 2017 UNICEF report, the president of the Society of Medical Doctors in Malawi, Douglas Lungu, says if pregnant women attend antenatal clinics cases of premature birth can be minimised.
To ensure a reduction of premature births and early child marriages, girls need to be encouraged to stay in school, and not be encouraged at a young age to have children, when they are children themselves.