By Seliphar Machoni
More than six decades after the advent of the initial oral contraceptive pill, modern contraception has revolutionized the lives of millions worldwide. By granting individuals a choice in terms of when and how many children to have, these contraceptives have improved maternal and child health.
In Kakamega County there has been a substantial increase in women utilizing contraceptives and postpartum family planning methods.
According to the Kenya Health Information system (KHIS) 2022/23 report, the number of women of reproductive age (WRA) receiving family planning (FP) commodities in Kakamega stands at 57.7 per cent.
During the year under review, 435 women received post-abortion contraceptives, postpartum family planning 4-6 weeks (12,013) and post-partum FP within 48 hours (5,451).
Janet Angote, the Kakamega County Health Coordinator said that providing a woman with postpartum contraception immediately ensures she can initiate the method before her first ovulation.
“If the initiation of the method is delayed, woman or teenage girl may be at risk of unplanned pregnancy and shorter inter-pregnancy intervals,” said Angote
Angote added that the approach helps to reduce maternal and child mortality while simultaneously improving the health and economic well-being of families and communities.
She explains that research indicates that women who experience a miscarriage often desire to conceive again promptly, whereas those who have given birth tend to prefer waiting for two or three years before having another baby.
“Counseling begins during the mother’s pregnancy. Once she gives birth, she is offered her preferred contraceptive method so that by the time she leaves the hospital, she is already equipped with her chosen method,” she explained
According to Angote, proactive measures have enabled Kakamega county to surpass its targets ensuring at least 60 per cent of women aged between 15-49 years have access to contraceptives.
“Our target for this year (2023) was at 60 per cent but within just nine months, we have exceeded the targets, currently standing at 63 per cent according to our recent survey. We aim to increase this figure to 65 per cent by the year’s end,” she added.
At the national level, the goal is to achieve a contraceptive prevalence rate of 66 per cent by 2030. Kakamega is now just three per cent away from reaching the national target, aligning with the sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030, particularly SDG 3.7.
She added that political stability and good will at the county level has played an important role in achieving their remarkable results.
She attributed the success to the proactive measures they have taken to ensure family planning services are accessible in all health facilities throughout the county.
“At level one we have community health volunteers who refer individuals to health facilities for these services, while at levels 2 to 5 hospitals, all healthcare workers have received training on providing various types of family planning services to clients,” said Angote.
Kakamega county first lady Janet Kasili who has been frontline in championing early pregnancy prevention, birth control and reproductive education said that contraceptive choices play an important role in empowering individuals to take control of their reproductive health.
Speaking at the Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC) Shianda during World Contraceptive Day, Kasili said contraceptives are cornerstones of reproductive health and family planning which allow people to choose the method that best suits their needs, preferences and circumstances.
“Whether it’s through pills, intrauterine devices, injections, implants or sterilization these options enable individuals to have greater control over their lives and future,” Kasili asserted
She vowed to continue pushing to end the existing disparities in accessing contraceptives in the county.
“We must ensure we provide a wide range of family planning services to our people. There is a need to increase awareness of why family is the cornerstone to sustainable development,” she said.