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Universal Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health is Essential For Kenya’s Development

Category : Naya Blog

Universal access to sexual and reproductive health services means that enough services and information are available, accessible and acceptable to meet the different needs of all individuals. This requires that people can safely reach services without travelling for a long time or distance, and that those with disabilities can easily access buildings. Services and treatments must be affordable, and based on principles of equity such that poor people do not bear a higher burden from the cost than more wealthy people. Care should also be sensitive to social and cultural considerations including gender, language and religion.

Universal access to SRH requires that services are of adequate quality (availability of skilled medical personnel, approved and unexpired drugs and equipment, proper infrastructure including safe water and sanitation); and that providers do not discriminate on the basis of sexuality, gender, ethnicity and age.

In Kenya, perceived poor quality of services, inappropriate treatment and discrimination by health professionals deters many people from using and accessing sexual and reproductive health services.

Lack of access to SRH services and information contributes to high levels of morbidity and mortality for largely preventable SRH problems in Kenya. Every year, thousands of women die during childbirth because there is not a skilled attendant present at the birth, and insufficient provision of condoms has contributed to the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. Restrictions on information about sexuality, contraception, prevention and healthcare, limit people’s ability to make choices regarding their own sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

Ensuring universal access to SRH services and information is essential for achieving many, if not all, of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially those on maternal health, child survival, HIV and AIDS and gender equality. Most maternal deaths can be prevented if there is skilled attendance at birth to cope with potentially fatal complications. Access to safe and effective family planning services and contraception empowers women to have more control over when to have children and lessens the incidence of unsafe abortions. Also, contraception can help reduce the transmission of STIs, including HIV. At a macro level, lower levels of maternal mortality and slower population growth increase social and economic development and reduce poverty.

By Michael Okun Oliech (@MikeOkunson)


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Ramp up investment and support for sexual and reproductive health of women

Category : Naya Blog

Enabling Kenyan women to plan their pregnancies and ensuring healthy births would reap tremendous returns. If all 2.5 million women with an unmet need for modern contraception (KDHS 2014) were to practice contraception, unintended pregnancies would drop by 70% and unsafe abortions would decline by 74% leading to large and immediate health gains.

Fully meeting the unmet need for maternal and newborn health services would also lead to sizable declines in poor health outcomes in the country. But because preventing unintended pregnancy is in itself a key component of improving maternal and newborn health outcomes, fully meeting the need for contraceptive care and maternal and newborn health care services simultaneously could achieve more dramatic improvements than investing in either one separately.

In particular, fully meeting the need for these services, including HIV related care for pregnant women and their newborns would mean:

  • maternal deaths would drop by two-thirds;
  • newborn deaths would drop by three-fourths;
  • the burden of disability related to pregnancy and delivery experienced by women and newborns would drop by three-fourths; and
  • mother-to-newborn HIV transmission would be nearly eliminated.

Beyond all of these direct and striking health gains, there is a bounty of other social and economic returns Kenya could yield by meeting women’s sexual and reproductive health needs. These benefits are felt from the micro to the macro level, by women, their families and their communities.

When their needs are met, women and children are more likely to be able to stay in school and gain an education, which in turn will have a positive impact on their future labor force participation and earnings. Women experience an increase in social status, self-esteem and gender equity. Families face fewer orphaned children, and households can boost their savings and assets. Societies undergo improved living conditions, reduced poverty and fewer strains on environmental resources. All of these rippling benefits directly affect other global development goals.

Fundamentally, women everywhere want and acutely need sexual and reproductive health services to lead healthy sexual lives, have the number of children they want when they want them, deliver their babies safely and ensure that their newborns thrive. Policymakers and other stakeholders at national and county governments have a responsibility to ramp up investment and support for sexual and reproductive health and rights, because all have a stake in the cascade of benefits that accrue to women, children, families, communities and the Country.

By Michael Okun Oliech (@MikeOkunson)


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Ministry of Health should adopt standards and guidelines to combat unsafe abortion

Category : Naya Blog

With abortion-related causes accounting for an estimated 25 percent of maternal mortality in Kenya, the Ministry of Health should adopt, approve and implement the national standards and guidelines aimed at reducing deaths and injuries caused by unsafe abortion.

Once these guidelines are approved, they must be implemented in all health facilities across the country. These guidelines must be designed to improve the health system’s capacity to deliver safe abortion care and to increase community awareness about the dangers of unsafe abortion. They should systematically address unsafe abortion by improving services related to reducing unwanted pregnancies and expanding access to safe, legal abortion care, including post abortion family planning services.

To show a common commitment in reducing grossly high maternal death rates from unsafe abortion in this country, the ministry of health must provide quality reproductive health care services, including the provision of safe abortion services which are fundamental human rights.

By Michael Okun Oliech (@MikeOkunson)


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Invest more on youth friendly services to win the fight against HIV and AIDS

Category : Naya Blog

 

Despite major progress made in the fight against HIV, HIV and AIDS still remains among the most significant public health challenges for Kenya. The possibility of an HIV-free Kenya by 2030 could be slowed down by the fact that not all people living with HIV have accessed care and treatment services.

 

In Kenya, an estimated 1.6 million people, or roughly four per cent of the population are living with HIV. Every year an average of 89,000 adults and about 11,000 children in Kenya are infected with HIV. Over 680,000 persons living with HIV, including 60,000 children aged 0-14 have received antiretroviral treatment.

 

Kenyan youth, especially young women, are the most at risk age group for new HIV infections according to data published by the National AIDS Control Council. Young people between the age of 15-24 account for 52% of all new HIV infections in Kenya.

 

Lack of access to youth friendly sexual and reproductive health information and services responsive to their special needs has contributed to these high numbers. According to the Ministry of Health’s own assessment through the Kenya Service Provision Assessment Survey of 2010, only 7% of public health facilities have the ability to offer youth friendly services.

 

This lack of access to youth friendly sexual and reproductive health services means that young people do not have adequate physical facilities where they can go to seek services. It also means that they don’t have access to enough healthcare workers trained and experienced in handling their unique needs.

 

As a result of these deficiencies, the youth, more often than not, cannot access information about their sexual and reproductive health. More crucially, it also means that there are barriers to access of HIV prevention options like condoms and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (or PrEP) or treatment options like Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) among others.

 

To win the fight against HIV and AIDS, Kenya must start by consistently investing resources for youth friendly sexual and reproductive health services. Also National and county governments have to consistently invest in social and behavior change communication programmes to influence young people to make informed decisions regarding their sexual and reproductive health.

 

One tangible and achievable commitment that we can make as a nation is to provide Kenya’s youth with youth friendly sexual and reproductive health information and services. This commitment will no doubt go a long way in helping them beat the threat of HIV and AIDS.

 

By Michael Okun Oliech (@MikeOkunson)


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FOCUS ON PREVENTION TO STOP GENDER BASED VIOLENCE

Category : Naya Blog

Gender based violence(GBV) is any act that result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life perpetrated against a person based on socially ascribed (gender) differences between males and females.

GBV is one of the most widespread and socially tolerated forms of human rights violations, cutting across nationality, race, class, ethnicity, and religion. It is a major source of inequality in Kenya today. It has a profound social and economic impact on families, communities, and the entire nation, as well as serious ramifications on national security.

Gender based violence in Kenya, as elsewhere in the world, is a complex issue that has at its root structural inequalities between men and women, young and old. This results in the persistence of power differentials between the sexes. According to the Gender Violence Recovery Centre(GVRC),  men are the main perpetrators of violence. 90% of GBV perpetrators are usually men.

Gender based violence remains one of the most pervasive human rights violations of our time.  Some of the violations meted on girls and women here in Kenya despite being outlawed include, child marriages, female genital mutilation and sex trafficking.

According to the Kenya demographic health survey, about 39 percent of women and girls in Kenya aged 15 and above have experienced physical violence, with approximately one in four experiencing such violence each year.

Kenya has made significant strides regarding GBV and other health-related human rights. From policies and laws to establishment of gender based violence recovery centers to awareness creation, both the state and non-state actors are doing all they can to ensure that women’s rights are respected and protected.

However, the best way to end violence against women and girls is to prevent it from happening in the first place by addressing its root and structural causes.

Prevention should start early in life, by educating and working with young boys and girls promoting respectful relationships and gender equality. Working with youth is a “best bet” for faster, sustained progress on preventing and eradicating gender-based violence. While public policies and interventions often overlook this stage of life, it is a critical time when values and norms around gender equality are forged.

By Michael Okun Oliech (@MikeOkunson)

 


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Education Act says schoolgirls must have sanitary pads

Education Act says schoolgirls must have sanitary pads

Category : Naya , Naya Blog

Daniel Otieno, Naya Kenya

published by the Star Newspaper, 5th October 2017

image courtesy: 3.bp.blogspost.com

One out of every 10 girls misses school during their periods, UNICEF data shows .This may extend to 15 days of absenteeism in a term. Challenges associated with sanitary pads include cost, fear caused by cultural myths and limited education on menstruation.

Some learning institutions lack proper places to dispose of the pads as well as private places for the girls to change. This results in low self -esteem and frequent absenteeism .There are also cases of teenage pregnancy, HIV-Aids and unsafe abortion, which are still high. This adversely affects the girl’s education.

The Education Act has already been amended to ensure girls in school have access to sanitary pads. Political will, availability of resources and proper coordination are necessary to ensure accessibility in both public and private learning institutions.

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Kenya Must Address Unmet Need for Family Planning

Kenya Must Address Unmet Need for Family Planning

Category : Naya , Naya Blog

Michael Okun Oliech NAYA Youth Advocate, Kisumu

The Daily Nation, 28th September 2017

image courtesy: www.tinzwei.com

As Kenya joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Contraception Day on September 26th, a lot of women in the country are still faced with an unmet need for family planning .Women with unmet need are broadly defined as those who want to postpone their next birth for two years or more, or not have any more children, but they are not using contraception.

According to the latest national survey (Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2014), about one in four married women of reproductive age reported having an unmet need for family planning at the time of the survey , which translates into approximately 1.4 million women. Half of these women to space their next birth and the other half did not want to have any more children.

Women who want to avoid pregnancy but are not using an effective method of contraception, account for a large majority of unplanned pregnancies .In Kenya, 43 per cent of pregnancies are planned. Unmet need for family planning is highest among adolescents (15 to 19-year-olds) and 20 to 29-year –olds at about 30 per cent , compared to 22 per cent of 30 to 34- year-olds .The level of unmet need continues to be higher in rural in rural areas(27 per cent) than in urban areas( 20 per cent).

According to the Ministry of Health, the top four reasons why women who say that they want to avoid pregnancy are not using family planning are;

  1. Fear of side effects and health concerns.
  2. Opposition to use, either by the husband or partner or owing to perceived religious prohibition.
  3. Having sex infrequently ; many wrongly believe that if they only have sex occasionally , they are not at risk, and therefore don’t need to use family planning
  4. Women cited postpartum reasons for not using, although many women are not sure how long they are safe from getting pregnant after giving birth.

While lack of contraceptive supplies and logistics problems in getting the contraceptives to the user continue to be a challenge in some counties, only a small proportion of women (six per cent) stated that lack of access (distance or costs) was the reason for not using them.

With the unacceptably high level of unmet need of family planning in Kenya, reducing it is paramount in the fight against the high level of induced abortions, maternal and neo-natal morbidity .Family planning is critical for the health of women and their families.

Promotion of family planning and ensuring access to preferring contraceptive methods for women and couples is essential to securing the well-being and autonomy of women. Allowing women to choose whether, when, and how many children to have achieves progress on global health goals .It also helps break the cycle of poverty and puts families, communities and countries on a stronger, more prosperous and sustainable path.  

 

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Parents Should Talk About Sex with Teens

Parents Should Talk About Sex with Teens

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Category : Naya , Naya Blog

Michael Oliech, Naya Kenya, Youth Advocate, Kisumu County

The Standard, October 2nd 2017

Many parents and teachers usually think that discussing sex with teenagers is a taboo and embarrassing, and has largely contributed to the rising cases of teenage pregnancy by encouraging promiscuity. We need to realize that talking openly about sex is not the same as encouraging promiscuity .It is about making teenagers aware of what is happening to their bodies, respectful ways in which they can treat their bodies, and how to act responsibly during sexual encounters.

According to the Center for the Study of Adolescents (CSA), there is no evidence to suggest comprehensive sexuality education increases sexual activity among young people .Kenya’s population is largely young. Persons aged 19 years and below account for almost half of the country’s population .First sexual encounter in Kenya stands at 15 years .Some 20 per cent of women aged 15 to 19 years have already had at least one birth.

Comprehensive sexuality education is essential for helping young people prepare for healthy and fulfilling lives. High quality information and education can equip young people with the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to make informed choices to enhance their independence and self-esteem, and to help them to experience their sexuality and relationships in a positive and pleasurable way.

The problem of teenage pregnancy and HIV infections among young people in Kenya can only be resolved when all stakeholders , especially teachers and parents , agree to teach young people the dos and don’ts of sex.

I call upon parents and teachers to support comprehensive sexuality education in and out of school .Denying young people their right to information is denying them their hopes and aspirations .All young people have a right to know how to keep themselves safe from abuse, sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies. When young people get the right information about their sexuality, they will make the tight choices.

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Kenya must address unmet need for family planning

Kenya must address unmet need for family planning

Category : Naya , Naya Blog

Published by Daily nation on 09/28/2017.

Courtesy: https://www.voanews.com

Michael Okun Oliech, (Youth Advocate-Kisumu)

As Kenya joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Contraception Day on September 26, a lot of women in the country are still faced with an unmet need for family planning.

Women with unmet need are broadly defined as those who want to postpone their next birth for two years or more, or not have any more children, but they are not using contraception

According to the latest national survey (Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2014), about one in four married women of reproductive age reported having an unmet need for family planning at the time of the survey, which translates into approximately 1.4 million women. Half of these women wanted to space their next birth and the other half did not want to have any more children.

Women who want to avoid pregnancy but are not using an effective method of contraception, account for a large majority of unplanned pregnancies. In Kenya, 43 per cent of pregnancies are unplanned.

FAMILY PLANNING

Unmet need for family planning is highest among adolescents (15 to 19-year-olds) and 20 to 29-year-olds at about 30 per cent, compared to 22 per cent of 30 to 34-year-olds. The level of unmet need continues to be higher in rural areas (27 per cent) than in urban areas (20 per cent).

According to the Ministry of Health, the top four reasons why women who say that they want to avoid a pregnancy are not using family planning are:

1. Fear of side effects and health concerns.

2. Opposition to use, either by the husband or partner or owing to perceived religious prohibition.

3.Having sex infrequently; many wrongly believe that if they only have sex occasionally, they are not at risk, and therefore don’t need to use family planning.

4.Women cited postpartum reasons for not using, although many women are not sure how long they are safe from getting pregnant after giving birth.

LOGISTIC PROBLEMS

While lack of contraceptive supplies and logistic problems in getting the contraceptives to the user continue to be a challenge in some counties, only a small proportion of women   (six per cent) stated that lack of access (distance or costs) was the reason for not using them.

With the unacceptably high level of unmet need for family planning in Kenya, reducing it is paramount in the fight against the high levels of induced abortions, maternal and neo-natal morbidity.

Family planning is critical for the health of women and  their families.

Promotion of family planning and ensuring access to preferred contraceptive methods for women and couples is essential to securing the well-being and autonomy of women.

Allowing women to choose whether, when, and how many children to have achieves progress on global health goals. It also helps break the cycle of poverty, and puts families, communities, and countries on a stronger, more prosperous and sustainable path.


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Step Up for Sexual Health

Step Up for Sexual Health

Category : Naya , Naya Blog

Step Up for Sexual Health

Step Up for Sexual Health