Kenya has been making significant steps in terms of contraceptive prevalence rate among women and girls of reproductive age. Nearly 6 out of 10 women in Kenya today aged between 15-49 use any form of contraception. But the County specific rates in Kenya are uneven. Some regions in Kenya still record a very high unmet need for contraception. It is also important to note that adolescent girls and young women age between 15-24 still require correct information on the type of contraceptive method to use.
Girls age between 15-24 are faced with many myths and misconceptions on contraception. Knowledge on family planning is nearly universal as most people have the basic knowledge on any type of method to use. These myths and misconceptions are cultivated by the fact that these group of young people seek knowledge from sources that do not give informed information. Many young people turn to their peers, internet or rely on hearsay to get information about contraceptives.
Where then can young people get informed and correct information on contraceptives and family planning? The first recommended stop for any young person who is sexually active and wants to use any method of family planning should be at a health facility. It is important for young people to consult a service provider at a health facility and be advised on the best method of contraception to use. Unfortunately, many young people fear walking into local health facilities and seek family planning services.
Why then do young people fear? Before answering this question, we must first recognize the kind of facility and if it is comfortable for young people. The national guidelines on the provision of youth friendly services in Kenya outline the minimum requirements for a facility to be youth friendly. A youth friendly health center should have a dedicated section set aside for the youth to access service. The service provider in this section should be trained on how to handle young people as clients. They should assure young people of utmost confidentiality and not judge them. If all facilities across the 47 counties in Kenya adhere to these guidelines, then young people would stream into these facilities.
It is also important to make investments in knowledge provision to increase demand for contraceptive services for young people in our local facilities. In Kenya today, 1 out of 5 girls between the age of 15-19 have begun child bearing. Most of these girls did not have adequate knowledge on family planning, some opted to use contraceptive services without consulting a health service provider and therefore did not correctly use it. We must also make steps to demystify myths on family planning mostly among young people.
Written by Meshack Ian Acholla
Interactive Media Communications-CSA