Report: Youths having sex before age 15

Health Executive Charles Githinji, Governor’s wife Margaret Gachagua and Forum of African and Arab Parliamentarians on Population and Development Executive Director Fatimata Deme during the launch of a reproductive health plan at Green Hills Hotel, Tuesday. [PHOTO: MOSE SAMMY/STANDARD]

Some 55 per cent of adolescents and youths aged between 10 and 24 years had their first sexual experience before their 15th birthday, a new report has revealed.

The County Reproductive and Family Planning Strategy, launched by Governor Nderitu Gachagua's wife Margaret at Green Hills Hotel yesterday, also showed most health facilities did not offer the full range of family planning and contraceptive methods, thus limiting the choice for clients.

As a result, the 10-year strategy aims to provide a framework for effective delivery of high quality reproductive health services.

The strategy seeks to improve family planning, maternal and newborn health, adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health, and reproductive health for persons with special needs.

It also seeks to fight HIV and Aids, tackle infertility and curb gender-based violence within the context of reproductive health.

In regard to family planning, both men and women will be able to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health, including the timing and spacing of their children.

Preliminary reports have linked women to population decline in Central Kenya. The reports show that 70 per cent of adult females in the region are on birth control.

According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2014, the unmet need for family planning services in Central region was estimated at 8.8 per cent against a national percentage of 18 per cent.

The survey also shows that seven out of 10 women of reproductive age in the region are on birth control.

Population structure

"The sustained use of contraceptives in any community is expected to change the structure of the population," Medical Services Director Nicholas Muraguri said.

In addition, the strategy underscored the need to give special attention to persons aged between 10 and 24.

“By making reproductive health information readily available to them (the youth), they will be less likely to engage in risky sexual behaviour,” the strategy partly reads.

The strategy, whose development was funded by the African Women Leaders Network for Reproductive Health and Family Planning (AWLN), also raised concern over increasing cases of gender-based violence especially against men. In particular, it attributed the domestic violence to consumption of illicit brews and high unemployment levels. 

The strategy also indicated that HIV prevalence in the county stood at 4.3 per cent against the national prevalence of 5.6 per cent and that women were more affected than men.

Nyeri is the first county in the country to launch such a strategy.

“It is a great honour to us that AWLN has chosen to roll out this programme first in Nyeri. We look forward to witnessing unprecedented improvement in maternal health,” said Mrs Gachagua.

She said the strategy would ensure that locals easily access treatment for diseases and infections associated with the reproductive system.

AWLN Donor Liaison Specialist Joan Koomson said the network had already rolled out similar programmes in Uganda and Tanzania and had chosen Nyeri because of its high statistics in reproductive health.

Some of the international delegates present during the launch were drawn from the United States, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Malawi, South Africa, Senegal and Zanzibar.

County Health Executive Charles Githinji pledged to fully implement the strategy, adding that delivery of the highest standards of healthcare services was a priority for the county government.

“At the moment, Nyeri has a contraceptive intake of 73 per cent, which is way beyond the nationally accepted 58 per cent. That notwithstanding, there is room for improvement and we aim to achieve 100 per cent through this strategy,” said Dr Githinji.

He said they would continue supporting existing platforms in the fight against gender-based violence.

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