Project to help women plan births

Sunday May 22 2011

A pharmacist displays birth control pills. According to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey, only an estimated 39 per cent of people living in urban areas are using contraceptives. Photo/FILE

A pharmacist displays birth control pills. According to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey, only an estimated 39 per cent of people living in urban areas are using contraceptives. Photo/FILE 

By JOY WANJA [email protected]

Women of reproductive age living among urban poor communities may soon have access to contraceptives under a new project.

Dubbed ‘Tupange’, the initiative aims at increasing and sustaining contraceptive use by 20 per cent in populated urban areas of Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa in the next five years.

According to the programme director Nelson Keyonzo, ‘Tupange’ will engage in various outreach activities in the target cities to create awareness among youth aged 15 to 24 years.

“This will be carried out to ensure citizens in the urban areas understand their family planning needs and thus make informed choices,” Mr Keyonzo said in a statement.

“Large families have been valued in Kenya by some communities as a sign of wealth and stature thus the idea of limiting births was slow to catch on,” he added.

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

The roll-out is expected to fill the gap in contraceptive needs and assist women living in urban areas to understand their family planning choices, know where to access the services and encourage confidence to seek out and use family planning services.

Health experts estimate that family planning could prevent as many as one in every three maternal deaths by allowing women to delay motherhood, space births, and avoid unintended pregnancies and abortions.

The use of family planning also saves the lives of children. After giving birth, family planning can help women wait at least two years before trying to become pregnant again, thereby reducing newborn, infant, and child deaths significantly.

The late 1990s saw a decline in birth rates with an estimated 4.7 children per woman as compared to 8.1 in the late 1970s.

The decline was attributed to the acceptance of family planning and increased availability of contraceptives.

However, the total fertility rate has stagnated with an estimated 4.6 children per woman in 2008.

The initiative is also expected to help the country achieve three-health related Millennium Development Goals on the reduction of child and maternal mortality rates and the improvement of maternal health.

Among other things, ‘Tupange’ will also conduct a review of selected facilities in the targeted cities where monthly consumption of contraceptives will be established and the information used to quantify quarterly city and facility needs.