Youth push for friendly family planning services

They say some health workers failed to explain to them the different types of contraceptives

In Summary
  • She said her mother cited several side effects as reasons for stopping her
  • She urged stakeholders to sensitise the community on the importance of using family planning

Paula* (not her real name) dropped out of school last year after giving birth.

The 17 year girl, who lives in the sprawling slums of Nyalenda in Kisumu county, stays with her single mother and siblings.

She said when she gave birth, a nurse asked her about family planning but she turned her down.

Paula said her hesitation was because she was not conversant with the different types of contraceptives and had heard of several myths.

Her perception would however change after attending a youth-led meeting on sexual reproductive health.

"I realised that I don't want to get pregnant again, because I am not married and I want to finish by education. Some of the myths that family planning was only meant married people and will cause infertility were cleared," she said.

"I know I will be able to finish my education and be able to get income to support my baby and my family."

Adolescents and youth from Kisumu's informal settlements are pushing for youth friendly family planning services.

They say lack of confidentiality in health facilities, supportive providers and financial barriers have made them shy away from accessing family planning services.

Molly*, 18, who is sexually active, said her mother barred her from accessing family planning.

She said her mother cited several side effects as reasons for stopping her.

"However, when I defied this and decided to go to the hospital by myself, I met a nurse who talked to me nicely and advised me on the various types of contraceptives including condom," Molly said.

She said her experience was different from some of her friends who were met with impatient health workers, who made public their visit.

"Some of the health workers failed to explain to them the different types of contraceptives," Molly said.

Florence*, 23, said hospitals should provide youth friendly services to make them  accessible.

She urged stakeholders to sensitise the community on the importance of using family planning.

"The media and community health volunteers should sensitise men and women about family planning. I decided to go for the services after I spoke to a CHV," Florence said.

Odongo*, 18, said boys have been sidelined on matters contraceptives.

“We should also be taught about reproductive health so that we are knowledgeable on these issues," he said.

" They should stop sidelining us because we also need the information and start seeking these services."

Ever Tenei, a nurse at Kisumu county hospital, said stigma has made many youth to shy away from seeking family planning services.

“So many are afraid and feel it is better to go to chemists or seek advise from people close to them," she said.

Tenei said they have a youth friendly clinic which is not being fully utilised.

"As nurses, we have decided to hold outreach events every Friday during this holiday. We have people who move to different estates to inform them of the services," she said.

Tenei said is dangerous for one to seek reproductive health services and advice outside health facilities.

“They will not get the required services or information. Chemists do not have time for consultations, they are more money focused," she said.

Tenei said the clinic gives HIV testing and counselling services, family planning services and mental health services.

She said it advocates for the use of condom as a form of family planning, besides creating awareness on side effects of family planning .

“A woman once came here with her daughter, who was in form two for family planning services. When I spoke to the daughter and found out that her mother had not forced her, we found an amicable solution," Tenei said.

She urged youth not to fear going to the hospitals and seeking advise on contraceptives.

“If they have any issues, they should speak to parents and guardians, but if they feel it is difficult to trust a parent or a guardian, they can come here, and we will be of great help to them.”

Network for Adolescent and Youth of Africa, Abdalla David said adolescent girls and women's right to access contraceptive services and information of their choice are recognised as fundamental human rights.

He said currently they are implementing a Safe and Inclusive Cities Program that seeks to ensure that girls and young women aged 15-24 in Kisumu and Nairobi slums live in a safe environment.

David said the programme, which seeks to give youth information and advise of reproductive health is being implemented in Nyalenda and Kondele wards.

“We want to witness youth receive information and knowledge so that they actively participate in political and leadership matters.”

He said under the programme they sensitise youth on the importance of being involved in decision making especially on matters to do with family planning, this includes holding community forums on rights, reproductive health and gender-based violence.

“We encourage youth to visit health centres and hospitals to access services on reproductive health.”

KDHS 2022 Statistics say 63 per cent of currently married women are using contraceptives, with 57 per cent using a modern method.

Among sexually active unmarried women aged 15–49, 70 per cent use a contraceptive method, and 59 per cent of these women use a modern method.

The use of traditional methods is more common among sexually active unmarried women than among currently married women (11 percent and 6 per cent,respectively).

Among sexually active unmarried women, male condoms are the most commonly used contraceptive method (20 per cent), followed by injectables(16 per cent) and implants (11 per cent).

Kisumu is currently at 57 per cent as the use of modern methods of family planning is concerned, this is however similar to the country’s average.

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