By Maggie Njuki
Reports indicate that only 3 out of 10 women are using modern family planning methods while 22% of girls aged 15-19 years in Kilifi County are already bearing children. Teenage pregnancy is rampant in the country and Kilifi is among those leading with over 17,000 cases reported last year.
Despite having some knowledge on advantages of FP, women in Kilifi face additional challenges due to cultural practices and religious beliefs.In most cases, the women cannot make the choice to take on any FP method without approval from the husband or their families.
Esther Mwema, Kilifi county health reproductive coordinator speaking during a reproductive health workshop in Kilifi town says the county has been performing poorly in relation to family planning which according to Kenya Demographic and health survey 2014 was alarming. Total fertility rate stood at 5.1 which means averagely Kilifi Women are giving birth to more than five children compared to the National rate of 3.5.
Compared to other counties within the coast region, Kilifi is second last to Tana River County though Tana River County has shown improvement moving from 6 to 5 in 2008/2009 while Kilifi from 4.8 to 5.1. Mwema says contraceptive preference rate for the county is also a concern at 32.8 compared to the national rate of 53 which calls for interventions from partners address family planning needs in the county.
Reports indicate that only 3 out of 10 women are using modern family planning methods while 22% of girls aged 15-19 years in Kilifi County are already bearing children.
The county coordinator says some of the Key challenges to address family planning in the county are myths and traditions from the Miji Kenda community like the “Mwenye” syndrome which gives men the power to decide and make decisions within the family. In most of the cases, after a health officer explains the methods to a woman at the health centre she has to go back and ask permission from the husband.
According to Mwema, they have to use injectable family planning methods that are not visible because using the implants means some of the women are sent back to remove. To address this challenge PS Kenya ,the ministry of health and Kilifi county government recently launched the program that will generate evidence and advocate for task sharing of FP service delivery from level 2 to level 1 (community level) by the Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWs).
Already the first batch of 36 Community health workers who underwent a four week extensive training on family planning methods graduated at Bamba Sub County Hospital in Kilifi County.
Rachel Mutuku, Population services Kenya director for reproductive health said the graduates will be able to offer family planning services to the community. The CHEWs were trained for four weeks including two weeks of theory after which they qualified.
Their aim is to gather evidence which can be used in similar programs in the county on reproductive health.
Mutuku said the CHEWS would help in addressing the problems of family planning as they are from the community and are able to deliver services directly to the people they interact with on a daily basis.
She said the CHEWS would work with community heath volunteers who will help in demand creation and will be able to reach out to women who will not have accessed the services.
In Kilifi, She said the prevalence of unmet needs is very high adding that on average out of the women they met in the county had eight children.