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SO MANY CHILDREN

So many myths, so little family planning in Garissa

The Northeast has the highest rates of maternal and child mortality

In Summary

• Destructive cultural beliefs include importance of big families, child marriage, aversion to contraceptives and rejecting education for girls/

• Poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy contribute to high maternal and infant deaths.   

Northeastern region population boss Moses Oumain Garissa during on World Population Day on Thursday.
CHANGE CULTURAL BELIEFS: Northeastern region population boss Moses Oumain Garissa during on World Population Day on Thursday.
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO
A Garissa woman draws water with one of her children.
LIFE OF FEW POSSIBILITIES: A Garissa woman draws water with one of her children.
Image: UNICEF

Rapid population growth fuelled by destructive cultural beliefs contributes to increased maternal and child mortality in the Northeast.

The use of contraceptives is very low because of some religious beliefs that God wants big families and contraceptives are forbidden.

Northeastern population boss Moses Ouma said on Thursday that these beliefs result in births too close together, poor health and often the death of mother and child.

Speaking at the Garissa showground on World Population Day, Ouma said residents and concerned parties must work together to ensure a healthy population.

Others issues affecting population include malnutrition, maternal deaths, child and infant deaths, domestic violence, drug and substance abuse, illiteracy and tee pregnancies.

Annually, Kenya's population is increasing at an average rate of 5 per cent, which strains available resources.

Kenya’s maternal mortality rate of 362 deaths per 100,000 live births is well above the global rate of 210 and the country’s Millenium Goal of  of 147 per 100,000.

“We want policy makers and decision makers at the county and national levels to support issues of population and health because they are intertwined and you cannot separate them,” he said.

He added," Synergise our efforts and find common ground in addressing the myriad of challenges affecting the county that are related to population, health and development issues."

According to the Keny Demographic Health Survey 2017, Garissa county is among 15 counties with high maternal mortality,  which stand at 646 deaths per 100,000 live births.

Girls face problems in getting an education because many people don't think girls need to be educated.  Girls drop out of school because of early pregnancies, forced marriages and increased abortions.

County Health director  Mohamed Salat said it is important that the public knows about population issues, health and the environment. This information will arm them with an awareness that is crucial in decision making about their reproductive behaviour.

 

(Edited by V. Graham)

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