POKHARA: Though Kaski boasts it is the third most literate district in the country, it is performing very poorly in terms of maternal health.

According to experts, most girls and their families are not aware of matters related to maternal health.

Lekhnath municipality for example, has just a small number of 60 women who availed of parturition services at the Shishawa Primary Health Centre this year.

Of them, 11 are below the age of 20, and as Dr Sunita Timalsina of the health centre informed, one among the new mothers is 16 years old.

Elsewhere, of the total 20 persons who received parturition service at Deurali health post this fiscal, five were below the age of 20. Health post chief Anandalal Joshi also presented data showing that majority of the clients that come for foetus check-up were teenagers.

Further, Joshi said that underage marriages were increasing despite the awareness campaigns.

“It’s very unfortunate that in a district with a high literate population, people have failed to understand the importance of reproductive health,” said District Public Health officer Mitra Prasad Aryal.

As per data of the 2011 census, over 40 per cent of the population in the district tie the knot between the ages of 15 to 19.

As per health workers, underage marriages not only bring complications in the mother’s health but increase the chances of negative impact on the health of the newly-born.