There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding family planning methods that many women would rather risk their lives than use them. NJOKI CHEGE explores the touchy debate
The government and non-governmental organisations have pumped so much energy and money to preach the message of contraception because reproductive health is at the very heart of development.
But as the world marked World Population Day last Wednesday a UN report on the ground painted a depressing picture.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says in as much as universal access to reproductive health by 2015 is one of the targets of the Millennium Development Goals, most developing nations still have a long way to go.
UNFPA says some 222 million women worldwide who would like to avoid or delay pregnancy lack access to effective family planning.
Locally, a recent report shows that women are still making uninformed decisions based on myths and misconceptions.
The study by Tupange-Kenya Urban Reproductive Health Initiative conducted in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Machakos and Kakamega paints a grim picture: That in this day and age women are still operating under a spell of myths and misconceptions about contraceptives, which has watered down efforts to promote its use.
Margaret Kilonzo, a Nairobi-based programme manager at Tupange, says 95 per cent of the women interviewed have knowledge mixed with misconceptions on the use of contraception.
For instance, in Nairobi, myths and misconceptions about family planning are widespread, with close to 80 per cent of women surveyed believing that users of family planning end up with serious health problems.
Myths and misconceptions
Some of the misconceptions include rumours that contraceptives reduce a woman’s libido, make her add weight or harm her health.
While it is not contested that all drugs, including contraceptives have side effects, medics agree that this notion has been blown out of proportion.