Monthly Archives: June 2017


Category : Naya

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By Esther Kimani (@KelsieKim )

CULTURE in Africa and many parts of the world allows girls to be married off as young as 10 years or before they are 15 years, CULTURE allows old men to rape girls in the name of “she is my wife”, CULTURE does not allow for girls who are married to access contraceptives and health care services, CULTURE allows for girls to be sex slaves in the name of Beading of girls, CULTURE silences girls to take control over their sexuality, their bodies, CULTURE denies them their rights to bodily integrity, to sexual and reproductive rights, CULTURE has taken hostage of girls bodies.


Five years ago, I visited a town called Oloitoktok in Kenya and met 5 girls brides; some had been rescued and were back in school but Susan was still a bride.

I asked her; why are you still living with him and community leaders are willing to help? I haven’t forgotten her response.

“My CULTURE (Maasai) does not allow, it owns me, My husband owns me, My parents own me too, I do not have a say, I hate this CULTURE but I am its PRISONER” 

She continued by saying; I am 14 years old, I am a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter and my full names are “Susan Kaimenyi” She narrates;

Three years ago when I was only 11 years my parents made sure that I got circumcised, even when I refused my mother said that “this is our CULTURE, I went through it all girls in this community did and you must do it”.

I felt helpless at that time I did not know much about family because I was just a child, I wanted to play with my friends I was still in school I was just a girl. A year after I went through Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) my mother sat me down again and told me that; “my daughter you are a woman now, women in our CULTURE start their homes and family after going through FGM and it is very important to your father to me and the entire clan”

Mmmmhh I wondered what is this CULTURE that allows girls as young as me to get married to an old man. Because I did not know what to do, I was so young my father had already taken all the cattle’s paid as dowry so I was forced to go.

The first few months into this so called marriage, I cried and cried and cried, sex was painful; this man forced himself on me the first night and every other night; he beat me up and threatened to kill me if I say anything to anyone. Every time he would force himself on me he would say “according to our CULTURE a wife must give in all the time to satisfy her husband” I thought about killing myself all the time but I could not because I was pregnant and according to the CULTURE: a wife needs to reproduce.

I got my first-born 10 months after I was forcefully married off. My son is about 14 months now; I have been forced to grow up to take care of him. I delivered at home with the help of Traditional Birth Attendant and was later taken to hospital. The nurse who looked at me with pity and sympathy, she took good care of me. Before we left the hospital when she was talking to me about family planning, my mother butt in and said “or CULTURE does not allow women to use family planning you must give birth until your body stops” So I did not and now I am two months pregnant again.

I know I am not the only one I cannot wait for the day my body will be freed from CULTURAL captivity, girls need to be protected from being a prisoner of CULTURE.

This is a story of just one child bride however; Worldwide, about 1 in 3 women were married before age 18, with the highest rates of child marriage in South Asia. Asia is closely followed by West and Central Africa and Eastern and Southern Africa, where 41 per cent and 38 per cent, respectively, of women between the ages of 20 and 24 were married in childhood. This is unacceptable, we need to join forces and end forms of violence against girls in the name of CULTURE.

As we celebrate the Day of the African Child today with theme “Accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunities for children in Africa by 2030″, We need to ask ourselves these questions; When will our girls be safe? Who will protect them from this scourge of violence? Who is responsible? Who will rescue girl’s bodies from CULTURAL captivity? WHO?

We are all responsible to ensure girls rights are protected, Women, Men, Religious leaders, Civil Society Organizations, Governments, the UN system, private institutions and all International agencies. We all need to commit to end violence against girls, we need to commit to change these retrogressive cultures that violates girls, we need to make sure that; girls have access to contraceptives, information on their sexual and reproductive health and rights and access to comprehensive sexuality education that will prevent unintended pregnancies and reduce deaths resulting from unsafe abortions.


The author is a Young Feminist Who Believes in Women  Rights. She is also a FEMNET member.

She currently works with the Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health (TICAH ). You can follow their work at and on Twitter @TICAH_KE.



Non-Communicable Diseases Impoverishing Families

Non-Communicable Diseases Impoverishing Families

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Category : Naya Blog

Daniel Otieno

Youth Advocate, Network for Adolescents and Youth of Africa, Naya Kenya.

Much is spent on treating non-communicable diseases and more disturbing is that the spending may be in a life time as some non-communicable illnesses are not curable. There are fears that by 2020 non-communicable diseases may double communicable diseases in developing countries. Kenya is recording progress by availing drugs for the treatment of breast cancer in Kenyatta National Hospital and also setting referral hospitals as well as equipping them with treating equipment.


A major challenge, however, is the limited financial allocations to the health sector, Limited prioritization of prevention of non-communicable diseases and inadequate implementation of policies relating to elimination of non-communicable diseases. A good example is the national school health policy that targets the elimination of non-communicable diseases among school going children. Non-communicable diseases impact negatively on the economy of households. Eliminating non-communicable diseases begins with setting a health financial strategy. This will ensure adequate money is allocated for treatment and setting screening equipment in public health facilities.


This will make treatment affordable. Prioritization of non-communicable diseases should also take equity in resource allocation. Persons in marginalized areas should be able to access affordable treatment, services, and information on non-communicable diseases.  Policies that will promote screening on NCDs at the community level will also increase the number of people seeking treatment. This will promote the preventive aspect of non-communicable diseases. Policies implementation also includes making effective the national school health policy which will enable reduction of non-communicable diseases among children. Finally public and private partnership will subsidize the cost of treating non-communicable diseases. In allocating resources for treating non-communicable diseases, let us strike a balance in prevention and curative aspects of non-communicable diseases.


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Equal Distribution Of Health Resources Will Enable Reduction Of Noncommunicable Diseases Within Counties

Equal Distribution Of Health Resources Will Enable Reduction Of Noncommunicable Diseases Within Counties

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Category : Naya Blog

By Daniel Otieno.

Network For Adolescents And Youth Of Africa, Naya Kenya

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The promulgation of Kenya constitution in 2010 made health a devolved function. Through this devolution, each county was to manage its own health system with resources from the national government. However, Kenya counties still lack adequately trained health workers and drug supplies needed to manage the provision of health services including prevention of non-communicable diseases. The Abuja declaration requires each country to allocate 15% of its national budget to the health sector.


However, Kenya’s allocation to health is still below the target. A limited number of health workers, a few screening equipment, cost of treatment, unequal distribution of resources among counties and limited drug supply are responsible for increased cases of non-communicable diseases. Marginalized areas bear the greatest burden of non-communicable diseases due to poverty, distance to health facility, adherence to drugs and lack of efficient health services. In addition, there has also been limited implementation of national school health policy that is to address noncommunicable diseases among learners.


According to world health organization, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and respiratory diseases are the major non-communicable diseases that negatively impact on individual health. Poverty at county level not only increases the prevalence of non-communicable diseases due to poor nutrition or unhealthy eating habits but also poor health seeking behavior’s that are characterized by a delay in screening. Reducing the prevalence of non-communicable diseases at the county level will contribute to reduction at the national level. In order to achieve this, we must first identify needs of the counties in relation to prevention of non-communicable diseases, for instance, the capacity of medical personnel, availability of drugs and screening equipment. Secondly, we must ensure the limited resources are prioritized to provide the minimal standard of services required.

Immediate allocation of 15% of national budget to health may not possible but we can have a starting point and make it progressive. Progressive reduction of noncommunicable diseases at the county level will then lead to a reduction in the national prevalence of non-communicable diseases.


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