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CULTURE: TAKING HOSTAGE OF GIRL’S BODY

Category : Naya

Photo Courtesy: 123RF.com

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.

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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 ticahealth.org and on Twitter @TICAH_KE.

 

 


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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

Photo Courtesy: internewskenya.org.

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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accounting_intern_wanted

Accounting Intern Wanted

Category : Naya Blog

NAYA-Kenya, a reputable regional SRHR advocacy network is looking for an Accounting Intern to assist the Finance Department with the following duties:

  • Filing documents
  • Ensure all finance and admin related documents are properly filed
  • Maintain a proper filing system
  • Reconciles bank statements
  • On a monthly basis, check and post all bank charges
  • Prepare bank reconciliation statements for all bank accounts
  • Ensure reconciliations are checked, approved and properly filed with the related bank statements
  • Maintaining the fixed assets register
  • Continuously update and maintain the fixed assets register
  • Ensure all assets are properly insured and the insurance list is properly updated.
  • Follow up for insurance claims
  • Maintain confidentiality
  • Any privileged information must remain confidential
  • Sharing information and printing of financial and admin records to other staff members or third parties must be subject to express and individual approval.
  • Any other duties as may be assigned.

Requirement

  • Must be at least a holder of CPA Part 1.
  • Any other qualification relating to Finance will be an added advantage.

How to apply

Applicants must submit their cover letter and CV to info@nayakenya.org by no later than the 5th June 2017.

If you do not hear from us within 4 weeks from the closing date, kindly consider your application unsuccessful and any further correspondence will be entered with only shortlisted candidates.

NB: The accounting intern will be based at NAYA’s Nairobi office.


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Increased Financial Allocations to Health Is Key to Eliminating Non-Communicable Diseases

Increased Financial Allocations to Health Is Key to Eliminating Non-Communicable Diseases

Category : Naya Blog

By Daniel Otieno.

 

According to world Health Organization, heart diseases, cancer, diabetes and respiratory diseases are the four major non-communicable diseases taking a toll on life both among children and adults. Physical inactivity, eating habits, alcohol and tobacco use are also the major risk factors attributed to the non-communicable diseases. Young people owing to their eating habits and lifestyles bear the biggest burden of non-communicable diseases. Young people represent a group that will rarely engage in physical exercise, often enjoy junk foods and alcohol.

According to WHO non-communicable diseases, Kenya country profiles of 2014, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases accounts for a bigger percentage of non-communicable diseases among men and women below 70 years. Men are most affected as the statistics reveal 13% and 14% for cardiovascular and respiratory disease and 12% and 13% for cardiovascular and respiratory disease among women. This arrives at a conclusion that men may be engaging more in alcohol and tobacco use compared to women as these two factors are highly responsible for lung diseases. In light of these factors, several strategies are necessary.

First, we must make health services available and affordable to all. Our health facilities must be well equipped with equipment’s and drugs required. Gratefully Kenya has made a major step in providing the first batch of breast cancer to patients at Kenyatta National Hospital. With devolution, it’s time we also ensure adequate financial allocations for the treatment of noncommunicable diseases especially cancer and heart disease. The Abuja declaration requires that 15 % of national budget be allocated to health. Allocation in Kenya currently stands at 5 %. Mandatory prepayment will also ensure everyone with or without symptoms contributes towards financing health as is done with the national health Insurance Fund. The point of care fee for non-communicable diseases must also be eliminated to ensure affordable health.

Political goodwill ensures equitable distribution of health resources in each county. With transparency and accountability in managing health funds, counties will have enough resources including drugs and personnel to meet the population demands. Non-communicable diseases have been prioritized in the  National Medium Term Plan (MTPII) 2014-2018; National Health Strategic Plan (KNSSP) 2014-2018; the United Nations Development Assisted Framework (UNDAF) 2014-2018 for Kenya; and the Kenya third generation WHO Country Cooperation Strategy (2014-2019).Implementing these provision will take us a long way in fighting and eliminating non-communicable diseases. To eliminate the incidence of non-communicable diseases among children, implementing the national school health policy is also necessary.

 

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Eliminating Drug and Substance Abuse Will Prevent Noncommunicable Diseases Among Young People

Eliminating Drug and Substance Abuse Will Prevent Noncommunicable Diseases Among Young People

Category : Naya Blog

Daniel Otieno

Availability of alcohol and tobacco, affordable price, peer influence, inadequate implementation of alcohol control act and inadequate preventive education on drug and substance abuse are responsible for drug and substance abuse among young people. Commonly abused drugs in Kenya include Prescription Drugs – including sex enhancement drugs, tobacco, Miraa or khat, Inhalants and Solvents, and alcohol. Due to legal penalties linked to use of bhang, Heroin, and Cocaine, abuse of these three is usually in secluded places though their effects on individual health are usually higher compared to the effects of other substances. Use of tobacco and alcohol are among the risk factors for non-communicable diseases including the mouth, throat cancer, and lung diseases. In 2015, a survey of 17 counties on alcohol and drug abuse conducted by the National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA), revealed a high use of drugs and alcohol by school-going teenagers. According to this study, alcohol was the most abused whereas prescription drugs was the most accessible.

In Kenya, the ministry of education in conjunction with the ministry of public health has developed national school health policy that targets reduction of non-communicable diseases among school going children. However, the policy implementation has experienced gaps in terms of keeping bars and tobacco away from learning institutions and also ensuring that children who are not in school are free from non-communicable diseases.

World Health Organization identifies the use of alcohol and tobacco, physical inactivity and eating habits as some of the risk factors to non-communicable diseases. Though preventable, cancer and lung diseases have been a major cause of adolescents’ mortalities and morbidities. To prevent effects of drug abuse among youth and adolescents immediate implementation of some health policies are necessary. First is the alcohol control act of 2010.This act prevents selling alcohol to persons under 18 years as well as selling unlicensed alcohol. However young people even below 15 have continued streaming bars and cigarette shops. Where are the authorities? Another act relating to prevention of non-communicable diseases is the national school health policy. Implementation of this policy can as well ride on alcohol prevention act to prevent accessibility to drug and substance abuse among young people, both in and out of school. Rehabilitation programs in addition to the effective provision of youth friendly services also play a significant role.   Rehabilitation from drug and substance abuse in Kenya is expensive. There is

In 2015, a survey of 17 counties on alcohol and drug abuse conducted by the National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA), revealed a high use of drugs and alcohol by school-going teenagers. According to this study, alcohol was the most abused whereas prescription drugs was the most accessible. In Kenya, the ministry of education in conjunction with the ministry of public health has developed national school health policy that targets reduction of non-communicable diseases among school going children. However, the policy implementation has experienced gaps in terms of keeping bars and tobacco away from learning institutions and also ensuring that children who are not in school are free from non-communicable diseases. World Health Organization identifies the use of alcohol and tobacco, physical inactivity and eating habits as some of the risk factors to non-communicable diseases. Though preventable, cancer and lung diseases have been a major cause of adolescents’ mortalities and morbidities. To prevent effects of drug abuse among youth and adolescents immediate implementation of some health policies are necessary. First is the alcohol control act of 2010.This act prevents selling alcohol to persons under 18 years as well as selling unlicensed alcohol. However young people even below 15 have continued streaming bars and cigarette shops. Where are the authorities? Another act relating to prevention of non-communicable diseases is the national school health policy. Implementation of this policy can as well ride on alcohol prevention act to prevent accessibility to drug and substance abuse among young people, both in and out of school. Rehabilitation programs in addition to the effective provision of youth friendly services also play a significant role.   Rehabilitation from drug and substance abuse in Kenya is expensive. There is

However, the policy implementation has experienced gaps in terms of keeping bars and tobacco away from learning institutions and also ensuring that children who are not in school are free from non-communicable diseases. World Health Organization identifies the use of alcohol and tobacco, physical inactivity and eating habits as some of the risk factors to non-communicable diseases. Though preventable, cancer and lung diseases have been a major cause of adolescents’ mortalities and morbidities. To prevent effects of drug abuse among youth and adolescents immediate implementation of some health policies are necessary. First is the alcohol control act of 2010.This act prevents selling alcohol to persons under 18 years as well as selling unlicensed alcohol. However young people even below 15 have continued streaming bars and cigarette shops. Where are the authorities? Another act relating to prevention of non-communicable diseases is the national school health policy. Implementation of this policy can as well ride on alcohol prevention act to prevent accessibility to drug and substance abuse among young people, both in and out of school. Rehabilitation programs in addition to the effective provision of youth friendly services also play a significant role.   Rehabilitation from drug and substance abuse in Kenya is expensive. There is need for providers of youth friendly services to prioritize rehabilitation from addiction in their programs. Provision of information on drugs and substance abuse cannot be underestimated. Education on drug and substance abuse will encounter the myths and misconceptions that drugs promotes academic prowess or eliminates stress. Finally provision of guidance and counseling and peer education will provide young people with life skills to avoid involvement in drug and substance abuse. With the political will to eliminate drug abuse and substance abuse, the effects of tobacco will, therefore, reduce cases of cancer and lung diseases among young people.

Implementation of this policy can as well ride on alcohol prevention act to prevent accessibility to drug and substance abuse among young people, both in and out of school. Rehabilitation programs in addition to the effective provision of youth friendly services also play a significant role. Rehabilitation from drug and substance abuse in Kenya is expensive. There is need for providers of youth friendly services to prioritize rehabilitation from addiction in their programs. Provision of information on drugs and substance abuse cannot be underestimated. Education on drug and substance abuse will encounter the myths and misconceptions that drugs promotes academic prowess or eliminates stress. Finally provision of guidance and counseling and peer education will provide young people with life skills to avoid involvement in drug and substance abuse. With the political will to eliminate drug abuse and substance abuse, the effects of tobacco will, therefore, reduce cases of cancer and lung diseases among young people.


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Early Education Best Way to Protect Young People from Non-Communicable Conditions

Early Education Best Way to Protect Young People from Non-Communicable Conditions

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Category : Naya Blog

Daniel Otieno

Published by the standard on May 8, 2017.

Image courtesy: Aga Khan Foundation

There is need to sensitize young people on how to prevent non-communicable diseases. This is because diseases such as cancer and heart conditions can be prevented if treatment is sought early or if healthy eating habits are adopted. The world Health Organization identifies cancer, diabetes, and respiratory and heart conditions as the four main non-communicable diseases. Poor eating habits, use of alcohol and tobacco, and lack of exercise are the main causes of these conditions. In 2009, the Ministry of Education adopted the national school health policy, with one of the targets being reducing the prevalence of non-communicable diseases among school children.

The policy has been instrumental in ensuring that smoking zones and bars are away from learning institutions. Physical activity has also been made part of the curriculum. School feeding programs should be accompanied by sensitizing on healthy eating habits and learners should be encouraged to always eat healthily. It is a reality that all young people prefer junk food that is often rich in cholesterol, thereby increasing chances of obesity and heart problems.

Secondly, there is need for more awareness on drug abuse and its role in cancer and respiratory diseases. Due to peer pressure, affordability and availability youth have fallen prey to drug and substance abuse. Preventive education would, therefore, reduce cases of cancer and respiratory diseases. Physical education should also incorporate sensitization on good health including fighting obesity and stroke. Peer education should also be encouraged to increase information flow on non-communicable diseases among children.

 

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Breast Cancer drug a step in the right direction

Breast Cancer drug a step in the right direction

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Category : Naya Blog

By Daniel Otieno, Nairobi

Friday, March 31, 2017, DAILY NATION

Breast cancer survivors will now be receiving their free dose of medicine at Kenyatta National Referral Hospital. This is thanks to the efforts of the government and advocates of resource allocation towards the treatment of cancer and other non-communicable diseases.

But as the government makes Herceptin, the breast cancer drug, available, it must also focus on sustainability of the program. It should encourage competition in the medical field by ensuring county governments have a greater role in training medical personnel.

Health workers’ role in the program cannot be underestimated. They must be motivated through refresher courses, incentives and an enabling environment that includes the availability of screening equipment.

The community, particularly the youth, must be sensitized and motivated to adopt health-seeking behaviors, including an early screening of cancer. The national school health policy, which, among other things, targets elimination of non-communicable diseases among learners, should be implemented.

Besides increased financial allocations, the state should also strengthen referral mechanisms to other public health facilities. Sensation should target everyone, including hoteliers, as young people who consume junk food and develop cardiac problems and obesity is their kin.


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Breast Cancer drug offers reprieve for many patients

Breast Cancer drug offers reprieve for many patients

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Category : Naya Blog

By Daniel Otieno, Nairobi

Friday, March 31, 2017, The Standard

Survivors of breast cancer now have a reason to smile as they receive their first free dose of medication from Kenyatta National Hospital. This is thanks to efforts by the Government and everyone who has been advocating for resource allocation for the treatment of cancer and other non-communicable diseases. As we make Herceptin, the breast cancer drug, more readily available, we must also focus on the sustainability of free cancer treatment. How? By encouraging competition in the medical field and ensuring that county governments have a greater role in training medical personnel.

The role of health workers in the implementation of free cancer treatment cannot be underestimated.We must motivate health workers through refresher training, good incentives and enabling environments that include the availability of screening equipment. In addition, young people, in particular, must be sensitized and motivated to adopt health conscious behaviors including early screening for cancer.

We must use this opportunity to implement school health policies that, among other things, target the elimination of non-communicable diseases including cancer among learners.The community must be educated on the benefits of seeking treatment early, healthy eating habits, physical activity and avoiding drug and substance abuse. Finally, the availability of cancer drugs should not stop with Kenyatta hospital but extend to other counties. We must also strengthen referral mechanisms to ensure that cancer survivors in other counties are able to seek specialized services in public health facilities. Sensitization should target everyone.


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Enact National School Health Policy Urgently

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Category : Naya Blog

By Daniel Otieno (Network For Adolescents and Youth of Africa)

Sunday, March 12, 2017, The Standard

In 2009, the government through the Ministry of Education in partnership with the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation launched the national school health policy.

This was in recognition of the numerous health and other social challenges identified among young people. Key among the challenges identified was disease prevention and control, including prevention of non-communicable diseases.

The World Health Organization information series on school health: Document 2 identifies tobacco use, behaviors that result in injury and violence, alcohol and substance use, dietary and hygienic practices, sedentary lifestyle and sexual behavior as major contributors to mortality, morbidity, and disability among the age group of 5-18 years. The development of national school health policy was therefore meant to promote health seeking behavior and enhanced knowledge on the linkages between environment and health. Progress has been made in some thematic areas, for instance, nutrition. However eliminating non-communicable diseases still experiences hitches.

Keeping tobacco and alcohol joints away from learning institutions will also reduce cases of drug abuse. We also promote healthy eating habits through improved programs.


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