ICPD+25

Kenyan women top Africa in contraceptives use

Kenya will classify contraceptives as strategic commodities of national importance, giving them a similar status to vaccines, and drugs for HIV, TB and malaria

In Summary

•Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said the government will continue to expand access to contraceptives until every woman can have them, whenever she wants.

•The report suggests the contraceptive use prevented 2,356,000 unplanned pregnancies this year alone.

Participants in a 'Form ni Gani' campaign march to create awareness on effective access to contraceptives for both boys and girls, Nairobi, April 17,2018. /ENOS TECHE
Participants in a 'Form ni Gani' campaign march to create awareness on effective access to contraceptives for both boys and girls, Nairobi, April 17,2018. /ENOS TECHE

Kenyan women are now among the top users of contraceptives in Africa.

The latest estimates show about 62 per cent of all women use modern family planning products to space and limit the number of children they can have.

That places Kenya among Africa's top countries in contraceptive use, and among the countries with the lowest population growth rate in Africa.

 

At least 6.1 million Kenyan women use modern contraceptives, up from about four million in 2012, according to the FP2020: Women at the Center report, released in Nairobi on Monday on the sidelines of the International Conference on Population and Development.

The report suggests the contraceptive use prevented 2,356,000 unplanned pregnancies in 2019 alone.

The figures, endorsed by the Ministry of Health, can explain the falling population growth rate, which has irked politicians from certain regions.

Kenya’s population stands at 47.6 million, with the lowest growth rate since independence, at 2.2 per cent.

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said the government will continue to expand access to contraceptives until every woman can have them, whenever she wants.

The report shows 16.5 per cent of married women desire to use modern contraceptives, but cannot access them. 

“Kenya is on track to classify family planning commodities as strategic commodities of national importance, a categorization that will see these commodities enjoy preferential financial treatment given the pivotal role family planning plays in development,” Kariuki said.

 

This will place contraceptives on the same level as vaccines, and drugs for HIV, TB and malaria, which currently enjoy that status.

In Kenya, for most women (47 per cent) injectable contraceptives are the most preferred, the report shows.

Implants are the next most popular with 18 per cent of women on that method.

Next is pills with 14 per cent of women, then condoms at 7.9 per cent.

FP2020: Women at the Center was produced by Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) – a global partnership that aims to expand access to family planning to an additional 120 million women and girls in 69 of the world's poorest countries by 2020.

The report estimates that as a result of modern contraceptive use, more than 518,000 unsafe abortions were prevented in Kenya this year.

“In addition, 8,800 maternal deaths have been averted as a result of modern contraceptive use,” the report suggests.

Beth Schlachter, executive director of FP2020, said: “The evidence is clear – when you invest in women and girls, the good deed never ends. Barriers are broken and opportunities open up that not only lift women out of poverty but can elevate society and bring about economic gains.”

CS Kariuki also appealed to donors to continue financing family planning in Kenya. “It is our intention that in the coming decade, family planning programme will be fully funded from our resources,” she said in the speech read by acting director general for health Dr Wekesa Masasabi.

“But before then, tangible collaboration will go a long way in ensuring we safeguard and sustain the huge gains we have made to date,” she said.

Currently, family planning in Kenya is almost fully funded by donors.

The donors were expected to spend about Sh8.7 billion buying contraceptives for the next five years. However, they will now spend only about Sh3 billion over the same period and expect the government to foot the balance of about Sh5.8 billion. 

The donors — the UK's Department for International Development (DFID), the USAID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — say the cutbacks will be gradual, beginning this year until 2025 when the government will fully take over the bill.