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Poor family planning choices can lead to abortion

 Nurse holding a syringe ready to give an injection

The high cost of accessing contraceptives may be contributing to an increase in abortions among married women.

It has been established that many couples are forced to use ineffective contraceptives on the advice of quacks.

Peter Kinyanjui and his wife Gladys Nyambura, residents of Kikuyu town in Kiambu County, are among many who have faced challenges after using contraceptives.

“We decided to use an implant as we thought it was the best to sustain our sexual relationship without necessarily having to worry about an untimely pregnancy,” he says.

Kinyanjui, a father of two, explains that the contraceptive initially worked well for his wife.

“We used to have sex almost every day and everything seemed okay,” he notes.

However, two years down the line, his wife suddenly became sexually inactive and would give excuses not to have sex with him.

Nyambura explains that after using the implant, her monthly periods gradually decreased and became lighter - and her sex drive went down.

There were other side effects: “It started with a severe headache then sore breasts before I noticed a steady increase in weight,” she says.

It was after they removed the implant that her body functioned normally again.

“Six months after the removal of the implant, I got pregnant,” says Nyambura

However, her husband demanded that she have an abortion on grounds that they were not ready to raise more kids.

Kinyanjui, however, acknowledges that they did not seek information from a medical professional before settling on the implant.

Ms Vania Kibui, a policy associate at Ipas Alliance Africa acknowledges that lack of proper reproductive information is to blame for the wrong choice of contraceptive and unsafe abortion.

“However, with the right information on the dangers associated with unsafe abortion, women will integrate safe motherhood programmes into discussions around abortion and other reproductive health issues,” says Kibui.

Dr Joachim Osur, director of Ipas Africa Alliance notes that the few cases where the Constitution allows abortion should not open an avenue for illegal termination of pregnancy, adding that attempts to have unsafe abortion can lead to serious complications for a woman.

Dr Elizabeth Kimani, an associate research scientist at African Population and Health Research Centre acknowledges that the negative consequences associated with unsafe abortion can be prevented with improved access to comprehensive post-abortion care, including proper counselling and effective contraceptive access.

In Kenya, nearly 120,000 women receive care in health facilities for complications from unsafe abortions, which leads to the deaths of many others.

Kenya and Uganda rank among the top in the world with high abortion rates of 39 per cent and 54 per cent respectively.

Eliminating unsafe abortion will play a significant role in achieving the millennium development goals and also ensure that there are fewer maternal deaths, lower maternal morbidity and better reproductive health.

To achieve this, the Government should ensure that women are empowered so as to avoid unintended pregnancy and unsafe abortion. Investing in maternal health is a political and social imperative, as well as a cost effective way to strengthen Kenya’s healthcare system.

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