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Radio Program Sparks Pregnant Teen to seek Medical Care

(June 18, 2024) A 16-year-old girl's decision to seek antenatal care during her pregnancy has sparked a heated debate within her church community in Nkhotakota, Malawi.

Her church prohibits members from accessing hospital services.

Loveness Kachala, who is three months pregnant, found herself at odds with her family and church after listening to a DRP-sponsored radio program that emphasized the importance of antenatal visits, especially for pregnant adolescents who face higher health risks than older women.

After the radio program, Loveness made the bold decision to visit Nkhotakota District Hospital for antenatal services, defying the beliefs of her church, which considers seeking medical care a sign of unbelief and sin.

"My church does not allow members to access hospital services, describing it as a sign of unbelieving, which is sin," Loveness explained. "But after listening to accurate information on Radio Nkhotakota about why adolescent girls face higher health risks during pregnancy and childbirth, I have made my decision to start going to the hospital to be attended by professionals."

Loveness's decision has not been well-received by her parents, who strongly oppose her choice. Her 17-year-old boyfriend, who attends the same church, has accepted responsibility for the pregnancy but refuses to accompany Loveness to her antenatal visits, citing the same religious beliefs.

Loveness's father, Raphael Kachala, expressed deep disappointment with his daughter's decision, stating, "It is very sad to see my own daughter going against my decisions. How can she start going to the hospital at the age of 16? God has been taking care of her since childhood; why abandon him at the age of 16? I don't have an option but to disown her. She is a lost sheep in the house of God."

Despite the tension at home and her father's threat of disownment, Loveness remains firm in her decision to prioritize her health and seek professional medical care during her pregnancy.

Station mentor Moses Kaluvi says Loveness is still living at home, although there is tension between her and her father and he says Mr. Kachala is upset with the radio station for making her daughter “wayward” as he puts it. However, Mr. Kaluvi says there is hope that her father will come around to accept Loveness’s decision since she is unmoved.

The situation in the community highlights the complex interplay between traditional beliefs, religious practices, and access to essential healthcare services, particularly for vulnerable groups like pregnant adolescents.

As the debate continues, Loveness's stance serves as a reminder of the importance of accurate information and the need to prioritize the well-being of mothers and their unborn children, even in the face of deeply rooted cultural and religious norms.


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