Girls as young as 10 years could soon have access to contraceptives and other family planning services in Kakamega County.
Health stakeholders in the area want sexually active school-going girls aged between 10 and 19 years introduced to contraceptives to help control runaway cases of early pregnancy.
A meeting bringing together health players at Shimuli guest house in Butere town resolved that sexually active girls be protected from complications that arise from early pregnancy because their bodies are not fully developed and prepared for it.
Butere sub-county alone reported 622 cases of early pregnancy between January and December 2016 and the figures could be even higher given that only the cases reported at local hospitals were taken into account.
"Out of the 4,057 expectant mothers seen in our local health facilities over 600 were children. We suspect more young mothers choose not to attend clinics, making it impossible for us to capture them in out records," said Butere sub-county Medical Officer of Health Okereto Keya.
Two cases of expectant girls aged 14 have been reported this year in Butere.
The recent meeting brought on board clerics, political leaders, health officers, teachers, parents, security personnel, students, and boda boda operators, who have been accused of being the cause of the problem.
The Great Lakes University of Kisumu and Family Health Option of Kenya are partnering with Kakamega County to roll out an intervention programme dubbed "Get Up Speak Out", which targets students aged between 10 and 24.
The pilot programme is being implemented in Butere sub-county and if it is successful, it will be rolled out in the remaining 11 sub-counties of Khwisero, Mumias East and West, Malava, Ikolomani, Matungu, Shinyalu, Lurambi, Lugari, and Likuyani.
This arrangement will see schools adopt an open-door policy to allow health officers to visit students and take them through reproductive health education, according to Dr Keya.
Sub-county Public Health Officer Reginatta Aroko said the concept is likely to yield better results since beneficiary groups will not only interact freely with health officers but get firsthand information about reproductive health.
"It creates an environment where the students can freely interact with our teams. The policy guideline is age-appropriate," she said.