Despite strong efforts on the part of the government and NGO’s to curb the escalating teenage pregnancy rate in South Africa, recent statistics show an increase of over 30% since 2011, resulting in almost 100,000 pregnant teens reporting conception in 2013.
According to Eye Witness News, KwaZulu-Natal has the highest teenage pregnancy rate with more than 26,000 recorded followed by the Eastern Cape with more than 20,000 and Limpopo with more than 13,000.*
In response, the Department of Basic Education’s Elijah Mhlanga has called for more responsibility from parents to teach safe sex and awareness around unwanted pregnancy in the home – as well as to report any non-consensual or coerced sex: “[we need] to make sure that parents talk to their children about how their bodies work, how to say no to those that are forced into sexual activity. They need to report this to the police.”
While the increase in teenage pregnancy coincided with lackluster GDP per capita growth (1.9% in 2013), high unemployment (roughly 65% for youth in 2014), there are some positive signs.
PSI South Africa (Co 158), the largest condom distributor/supplier in South Africa (comprising 70% market share), has increased sales by 6% from 2012-2013 (and an additional 7% from 2013-2014), offering two distinctive brands to entice and encourage users to use condoms – the approachable and more affordable Trust, as well as the more exciting and adventurous Lovers+.
Prioritizing Lovers+ in their media plan (TVC only heroes Lovers+, with some radio support for Trust) ensures the message being heard most often and most widely prioritizes safe exploration and “playtime,” promoting the condom as a fun addition to the sexual act. To compliment the excitement behind Lovers+, PSI South Africa is also amping up its in store presence for the more affordable Trust, as well as ensuring traders support the brand by focusing efforts on trade marketing.
Above: PSI South Africa’s “It’s Playtime” TV Commercial.
While the road to declining teenage pregnancy seems far away, given the economic and educational realities of South Africa at the moment, there is work afoot that will hopefully turn the tides. As I reported back in May, the Government of South Africa has recognized that condoms are a priority and as of 2014, has dedicated 3.5 Billion Rand to ensure over 3 Billion male condoms are distributed from 2014-2017. While the effort comes from a good place, the historical effort by the government have fallen short as the target audience either felt the condoms – by virtue of them being free and from the government – were “uncool.” Moreover, a massive rumor and recall back in 2007 left people questioning the quality of condoms procured by the Government, further challenging the efficacy of this latest commitment.
Above: South African Future Leaders show checks out the latest batch of Choice Grape scented condoms intended for free distribution.
But one thing is for certain – everyone seems to be focused on the youth, and this is a good thing. With unwanted pregnancy on the rise, high HIV rates, and condom use dropping around the continent for the youth, we all need to take a step back and recognize that we need to do everything in our power to get the youth excited about condoms again.