Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Misconceptions about contraception hampering family planning

A pharmacist displays birth control pills in Nyeri on September 1, 2010. The annual International Conference on Family Planning is set for Addis Ababa this week. Photo/ JOSEPH KANYI

A pharmacist displays birth control pills in Nyeri on September 1, 2010. The annual International Conference on Family Planning is set for Addis Ababa this week. Photo/ JOSEPH KANYI  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By JOY WANJA MURAYA
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A reproductive health study on Kenya has showed that myths and misconceptions about family planning are widespread, with the women surveyed believing that family planning leads to health problems.

On Tuesday at the ongoing International Conference on Family Planning in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Kenyan researchers presented a research paper attributing myths and misconceptions fuelling the lack of use access and use of family planning amongst women of reproductive age.

The research was carried out by Timothy Abuya, Rebeccah Njuki and a team from Population Council Kenya.

Titled 'Barriers to access and use of family planning vouchers in Kenya', the paper interviewed women enrolled in family planning vouchers programme at six sites in Kenya to establish why some women who had access to the vouchers did not use them.

The researchers interviewed 90 women who had been enrolled in a voucher system that entitled them to long term contraception methods such as intrauterine devices, implants, and voluntary surgical contraception at a subsidized price of approximately US$1.25.

The findings indicated that three in 20 women failed to use the vouchers largely due to generalised misconceptions on the side effects of family planning.

"In several areas, pronatalist local politicians discourage contraceptive use," the researchers noted, adding the problem was aggravated by lack of male involvement in reproductive health.

A pronatalist is a person who encourages childbearing, either out of some practical or religious belief that human populations were designed to grow naturally, or one who believes human populations should grow nearly as large as possible, to benefit nearly as many people as reasonably possible.

"At household level, the male partner may disapprove based on a perception of potential unfaithfulness if the woman uses a family planning method," read the paper in part.

UNAWARE OF FAMILY PLANNING OPTIONS

According to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey, only an estimated 39 per cent of people living in towns are using contraceptives, largely because they are unaware of family planning options, lack access or are influenced by myths on family planning.

And with one in four women in Kenya who wish to delay or prevent pregnancy lacking access to modern contraceptives, the papers presented called for more pro-poor and pro-access strategies in countries looking for a solution to the unmet contraceptive needs.

The researchers also found that women are reluctant to seek family planning if they believe a HIV test will be given during the clinic visit.

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