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SEXUAL HEALTH

Family planning, matter of life and death for Kenya's women

Couples should be able to freely choose the family planning method of their choice.

In Summary

• Family planning reduces the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions, thus reducing maternal mortality.

•  It also leads to pregnancies that are spaced, an advantage to women and their babies.

Family planning
Family planning

As I walked the halls on Capitol Hill last summer, my thoughts were on my home in Kenya and the women I have met as a pastor.

I was in the US as part of a group of Christians seeking support from the  American government for global health programmes, including family planning. I know what it is like to lose a woman in my congregation when she dies in childbirth.

This tragedy is much common, especially in Kenya – data from the World Bank Group show a high maternal mortality rate of 342 women deaths for every 100,000 live births.

 

The deaths of these women may seem like a natural part of life but it does not need to be this way.

Every person has the right to good health and this includes sexual and reproductive health, preventing and treating infections and access to family planning, among other medical needs.

Family planning means protecting the health and the ability of women and men to make their own free and fully informed choices. Couples should be able to freely choose the family planning method of their choice after receiving full information by a health provider and should be offered a wide range of contraceptive methods so they can choose the best method for them.

Family planning reduces the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions, thus reducing maternal mortality. It also leads to pregnancies that are spaced, an advantage to women and their babies. A woman’s body can recover from a pregnancy and childbirth before becoming pregnant again. Her children will benefit too. Studies have found that when a child is born less than two years after a previous birth, it is 60 per cent more likely to die as an infant than a child who is born three to five years later.

During my pastoral work, many women and girls pass through my hands and I have taken it upon myself to talk about the importance of family planning and the importance of bringing up healthy families.

We must ensure every woman and man has the ability to plan their family and experience reproductive health.

The Bible in the book of 1st Timothy 5:4 says, “If anyone does not provide for his own and especially for those of his house, he has denied the faith and is worse than a non-believer.” By this, the word of God warns Christians not to neglect their responsibility of taking care of their families.

 

I urge Christians to plan and care for their families, and I urge our policymakers in Kenya to make family planning a priority. The lives of women and children depend on it

Mberia is a clergy in Methodist Church in Kenya, Kathera Circuit, Meru county