Kenya Hits Target as Married Women Embrace Family Planning
The contraceptives prevalence rate among married women of reproductive age has risen from 53 percent in 2014 to 61 percent last year, according to new data from the Ministry of Health.
The rise has seen Kenya surpass its 2020 target of 58 percent.
Family planning services and programmes have important health, social, financial, environmental and economic benefits.
Decades of research have shown that better access to contraception helps people to plan and space for pregnancies.
The purpose of family planning is to make sure that the desired resources are available for parents to give their children a better quality of life.
When parents plan their families, they are more likely to realise their education goals and have careers to raise family income.
Better access to family planning is greatly aided by education, and countries that send their children to class and keep them there have seen a rapid decline over the past decade in the percentage of girls reporting birth before age 15, a trend attributed largely to a decrease in early and arranged marriages.
At independence, one out of every six children in the country died before their fifth birthday, but their prospects of living to adulthood have since improved tremendously as a result of the intense family planning programmes.
The data, which was collected in 11 counties, revealed that use of modern contraceptives increased among women from 39 percent in 2014 to 45 percent in 2018.
This has informed the ministry’s decision to revise its contraceptive prevalence targets to 66 percent by 2030 and 70 percent by 2050, International Centre for Reproductive Health country director Peter Gichangi said.
The contraceptive prevalence rate is the percentage of women of reproductive age (15 to 49 years) using a modern contraceptive method.
The data presented on Thursday by Prof Gichangi also revealed that 2.1 percent of married women are still using traditional methods.
The 11 counties under review were Bungoma, Kakamega, Kericho, Kiambu, Kilifi, Kitui, Nairobi, Nandi, Nyamira, Siaya and West Pokot.
They were selected due to the population and the numbers in each household.
The survey done between November and December 2018 revealed that five counties had a decrease in usage of contraceptives among all women between 2017 and 2018.
The counties are Kakamega, Nyamira, Siaya, Bungoma and Kericho while the remaining six recorded a decrease among married women in the same period.
The data also showed that use of long-acting methods (injections, intra-uterine devices and implants) amongst married women increased from 23 in 2014 to 40 percent in 2018. However, there was a decline of the same in Siaya and West Pokot.
More married women were using implants, recording a sharp increase from 20 percent to 38 percent while there was a decrease in the usage of injectable contraceptives from 53 percent to 40 percent.
Usage of pills also reduced from 13 percent to seven percent.
Among unmarried but sexually active women, there was an increase in emergency contraceptives from 12 percent to 14 percent while implants’ usage rose from 16 percent to 24 percent.
From the survey, rural women start having sex early (17 years) and start using contraceptives six years later (23 years) compared to their urban counterparts who start having sex at 19 years and start using contraceptives at 22 years.
Rural women start using contraceptives two years after having their first birth, on average at 21 years, while urban women start using contraceptives one year before their first birth at 23 years.
Only three in every 10 adolescents and young women are using a modern contraceptive method, the report shows.
However, FP2020 commitment seeks to ensure that use of contraceptives among adolescent girls of between 15-19 years increase from 40 percent to 50 percent by 2020 and to 55 percent by 2025.
“This can be attained if we concentrate on the youths; they are sexually active and would need to plan,” Prof Gichangi said.
The report showed that unmet needs for family planning among all women aged 15 to 49 years decreased from 19 percent in 2014 to 12 percent in 2018 while in married women it decreased from 25 percent to 14 percent, according to the Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020 platform.
West Pokot was leading in unmet needs among married women at 19 percent followed by Kilifi (16 percent), Siaya (14 percent), Bungoma (13 percent), Kakamega and Nandi (12 percent), Nairobi and Kitui (10 percent), Kericho (nine percent), Nyamira (seven percent) and Kiambu (five percent).
Unmet need refers to a number of sexually active or married women who would like to delay childbearing or space births, but are not using birth control.
“The unmet need for contraception is still high at 11.5 percent. This indicates that women may not be achieving their desired family size,” Prof Gichangi said.