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Home / Reproductive Health

Kenya’s adolescents lag behind as contraceptive use increases




Different types of contraceptives. [Courtesy]

About 20 per cent of married women in Kenya lack access to modern contraceptives.

This is according to a report by Family Planning 2020, a global partnership that was formed in London in 2012 to support the reproductive rights of women and girls.

The report focuses on 69 countries, and Kenya is among those committed to ensuring more women and girls have easy access to contraceptives by 2020.

According to the report, access to family planning in the country increased last year as Kenya committed to increasing the uptake of modern contraceptives by 58 per cent.


A close up of a packet of birth control pills. [Courtesy]

The number of users across Africa – which had the lowest uptake in 2012 – has grown by 66 per cent, from 40 million to more than 66 million women and girls. In central and west Africa, users doubled, while in eastern and southern Africa, the number grew by 70 per cent.

An increase of 66 per cent of contraceptive use in Kenya has helped avert more than 2 million unintended pregnancies, 503,000 unsafe abortions, and 5,700 maternal deaths last year alone.

In 2018, the use of modern contraceptives for all women rose by 61 per cent. The number was however lower for adolescents, and this was attributed to cultural and religious beliefs.

More receptive

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“When a pastor stands on the pulpit and condemns the ‘spirit of contraceptive use’, then it becomes difficult for health workers to administer it,” says Geraldine Bayo, a nurse and advocate for adolescents reproductive health.

The report further indicates that an estimated six million women and girls are using modern methods of contraception in Kenya. This is almost two million more since the launch of FP2020.

“Since 2012, the family planning movement has gained huge momentum. Yet big challenges remain. With every day that passes, millions are denied the right to choose their own future.

“As we look ahead to 2030, we must continue to push for progress, build on what works well, and ensure we leave no woman or girl behind.” Said Beth Schlachter, Executive Director of FP2020.

Contraceptive prevalence peaks among married women aged between 30 and 34 and is lowest for girls aged between 15 and 19. Women in urban areas are more receptive to family planning methods with uptake standing at 62 per cent.

With an increase in the uptake of modern contraceptives, the fertility rate in women is projected to decline further. According to the KDHS report, the current total fertility rate is 3.9 births per woman. This means on average, a Kenyan woman will give birth to four children. The fertility rate of 3.9 in 2014 is the lowest rate Kenya ever recorded.

The fertility rate of women in rural areas is 4.5 births which is at least five children. This is significantly higher compared to urban areas where the rate is 3.1 births per woman, which can be attributed to an increase in contraceptive use.

Demand for family planning also varies by background characteristics. Demand increases with age as most women aged between 35 and 39 use modern contraceptives after which, uptake declines.

Family planning is low among women with no education.

Injectables are the most preferred method of contraception for women, while men are not keen on taking up sterilisation despite campaigns by the Ministry of Health.

However, Covid-19 could disrupt contraceptive use. In April, two-thirds of the 103 countries surveyed by the World Health Organisation reported disruptions to family planning services.

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