Kenya: DSW midwifes formation of team to increase investment in family planning

Collins Baswony Kenya, Population Dynamics

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Uasin Gishu County’s reproductive Health coordinator Melly Samuel at a technical working group meeting PHOTO: Tashrifa Silayi/DSW

Uasin Gishu County in Kenya now has a functional sexual and reproductive health technical working group to help in addressing challenges facing family planning in the county[1].

The working group, which was formed in June 2016, comprises of health officers from the national government, the county department of health, representatives of civil society organisations, the county commissioner and a representative of the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs.

Speaking to DSW about the importance of county technical working, Uasin Gishu’s reproductive Health coordinator Melly Samuel that the sexual and reproductive health technical working group will promote inter-sectoral coordination in planning and implementation of Reproductive Health/ Family Planning programs.

“Personally, I believe this is the first step in ensuring we start tackling the challenges faced by family planning in Uasin Gishu County. The technical working group will strengthen linkages among actors in sexual reproductive health in the county and will also assist develop activities to facilitate the best use of resources and minimize duplication of efforts.” Melly said.

Cultural barriers 

On family planning in Uasin Gishu, the County Reproductive Health coordinator Melly Samuel said that in Uasin Gishu County, reproductive health/ family planning faces a lot of challenges. The culture of men not supporting family planning is a high barrier to women accessing family planning services.

“There are also a lot of myths and misconception surrounding family planning use and very few staff at the health facilities to assist clients who want to get family planning services.” said Melly.

Funding pressures

Mr. Melly also talked about the shift in funding with most donors funding HIV projects while family planning funds have continued to shrink.

“It was therefore a relief to have DSW come in to support family planning in the county. We officially now have a technical working group on reproductive health/ family planning that will ensure that reproductive health/ family planning issues are mainstreamed into national and county policies and programs for sustainable development” Melly added.

Benefits of investment in family planning

“…every dollar spent on family planning saves between $2 to $6 interventions aimed at achieving other development goals…”

The United Nation estimates that every dollar spent on family planning saves between $2 to $6 interventions aimed at achieving other development goals. In Kenya, one out of four married women ages 15 to 49 has an unmet need for family planning, meaning they wish to delay their next pregnancy by two years or more, but are not using any contraception method. The situation is worse with the rural poor women who have no access to family planning information and have to walk long distances to access the services.

The formation and strengthening of the technical working group is part of the activities that DSW is implementing in Kenya under the SHAPE (Securing Health through Advocacy and People’s Empowerment) project.

The three-year SHAPE project aims to mobilize more and better funds from key European donors (Germany and The European Union) as well as from East African governments (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda) to support family planning.

(Written by Tashrifa Silayi. Edited by Collins Baswony)

[1] A technical working group is a team of subject-matter experts formed for a particular purpose only working together to achieve specified goals. Such a team is domain-specific and focus on discussion or activity around a specific area subject area e.g family planning