In the past decade, Kenya has made tremendous advancements in increasing access to modern methods of contraception.
However, this has significantly reduced in the past year and experts are linking this downward trajectory to the recent global pandemic.
“In Kenya, contraceptives use among women of reproductive health has been on an upward trajectory from 37.2 percent in 2017/18 to 44 percent in 2019/2020. This rate has declined to 29.6% in 2020/21, due to disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.(KHIS, 2021),” said Dr. Patrick Amoth the chairperson of the World Health Organisation (WHO) executive board.
Data from the Ministry of Health shows that the percentage of married women using modern methods of family planning has increased from 36% in 2007 to 61% currently. This has helped curb rapid population growth and drive development.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic upending lives across the world, accessing and making good decisions around contraception has become more challenging,” said Chief Administrative Secretary, Dr. Rashid Aman.
Dr Aman said that in Kenya, the pandemic has exposed inequalities in access to contraception that need to be addressed. He added that while contraception services have remained largely accessible to people in the high-income bracket, marginalized groups and persons living with disabilities have not been so lucky.
“A significant number of Kenyans lost their sources of livelihood due to Covid 19 and this has seen them prioritize the provision of basic needs for their families as opposed to reproductive health care. Additionally, an even larger number of Kenyans in rural and remote areas were unable to make hospital visits either due to distance or to minimize the risk of contracting Covid 19. These inequalities pose a risk of reversing the progress Kenya has made in enabling access to modern contraception,” said the CAS.
Data from the ministry of health shows that in the financial year 2020/2021, the government disbursed USD 5.1
million to Family Planning commodities against the allocated USD 7.9 million in addition to Development Partners USD 3 million yet Kenya requires USD 20 million to finance these strategic commodities.
Commonly used contraceptives in Kenya
According to Dr. Amoth, in 2020, injectables were the most common contraceptive method used (54.1%), followed by the male condom (13.8%), implants (13%), and the pill (12.7%). IUD (3.9%), emergency contraception (1.6%), and female condoms (0.8%) were less dominant methods of contraception used.
“In 2021, it is estimated that use of contraception will avert more than 2.4 million unintended pregnancies and 6,100 preventable maternal deaths,’ Dr. Amoth added.
Kenya joins the world in marking World Contraception Day 2021 whose theme is; “Leaving no one behind: expanding sustainable access to contraceptive in the COVID 19 pandemic and beyond.” It seeks to raise awareness to improve and sustain contraceptive uptake during the COVID-19 pandemic and enable couples to make informed decisions and choices in planning their ideal families, Dr Aman said.
According to the Director General of The National Council for Population and Development Dr Mohamed
A. Sheikh, While Kenya’s Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has dropped in the last decade; from 4.6 to 3.4 births per woman between 2009 and 2020, there are notable variations among counties.
“While some counties such as Kirinyaga reported a low number of births per woman of reproductive age
(15-49), women in the Northern Region reported high births of up to 5 per woman. These variations are also notable in the uptake of family planning services where Kirinyaga County leads with a modern Contraceptive
Prevalence Rate (mCPR) at 77.5% among married / in union women compared to Mandera County with mCPR of 2.3% in 2020 while the national rate stood at 61%; Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) was 68% for all methods and a demand satisfaction of 77%. A reduction in fertility provides an opportunity for accelerated economic growth,” De Sheikh said adding that family planning has an inherent potential to reduce poverty considering
that investments in contraception translate to economic growth and development.
Kenya is the fourth country with over 60% use of modern contraceptives (mCPR) in sub-Saharan Africa after Zimbabwe and Eswatini (66%) and Lesotho (65%) (PRB, 2021) according to Dr Amoth.
In order to bridge this gap, Dr Aman said that the Kenyan government and its development partners have agreed on a formula that would have FP fully financed domestically by 2024.
he said that it is important to note that UHC and the country’s health benefits package which the Ministry of Health has developed, will also enable the provision of Family Planning services down to more accessible facility levels upon execution.
“Furthermore, the government commits itself to work hand in hand with all stakeholders in health and the allied Sectors to ensure improved access to Family Planning services being a component of reproductive health as enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya. Family Planning commodities are Strategic to the wellbeing of our economy. We should not forget that men are key players in this conversation on Family Planning with responsibility for the good of the family,” he concluded and added that every stakeholder particularly representatives of vulnerable and marginalized populations are welcome to provide information and avail themselves for discussions surrounding Family Planning towards progressively improving access for all.