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Home / Health & Science

Why Kenyan men just can’t stand vasectomy

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy PATRICK BEJA | Mon,Feb 24 2020 11:15:00 EAT
By PATRICK BEJA | Mon,Feb 24 2020 11:15:00 EAT


Kenya Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society president Dr Benjamin Odongo with Dr Francis Were [right] and Dr Mbete Juma (centre) during the pre-Congress workshop at the 44th Kenya Obstetrical and Gynaecological society congress to be held from today at Msambweni Ref feral Hospital in Kwale County. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Only one per cent of Kenyan men have undergone a vasectomy, says the Kenya Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society (Kogs).

This is despite national campaigns promoting free vasectomy services.

Speaking in Mombasa on Friday after a week-long conference bringing together more than 400 reproductive health experts, Kogs blamed the low uptake on stereotypes.

Consultant gynaecologist Kireki Omanwa said despite the State’s efforts, including counselling and persuasion, male sterilisation had not picked up.

“The uptake of vasectomy is a matter of concern to us. Out of 100 males, only one would accept vasectomy,” said the organisation’s president Benjamin Odongo Elly.

He added: “Males believe vasectomy will affect their sexual performance for the rest of their lives. Ladies also think vasectomy will affect the fertility of their male partners.”

Dr Elly noted that males and females believe vasectomy destroyed the former’s ability to sexually perform.

Another expert, Francis Were, said Kenyan men who had accepted vasectomy had done it secretly because it was still attached to stigma.

“Many believe vasectomy makes them impotent. Those who have accepted it want it done secretly,” said Dr Were, adding that family planning remained largely for women.

On Friday, curtains came down on a week-long meeting on a number of issues effecting public health at a time the country is focusing on universal health care (UHC).

The experts deliberated maternal-fetal medicine, gynaecologic oncology and benign conditions, infertility, endometriosis and reproduction health in Kenya.

Other areas were basic translational science in reproductive health, family planning and contraception challenges, urogynaecology and medicolegal issues.

Issues addressed

Some specific high-risk conditions, including post-partum hemorrhage, premature delivery, infections in pregnancy and family planning were addressed.

Were added that various challenges in sustaining quality of reproductive health services at the dawn of the age of universal health care were identified.

The doctors also observed that the frequent strikes by health workers over pay could undermine efforts to achieve UHC.

In their final communique, the doctors expressed concern over the low uptake of vasectomy hampering planning efforts for male countrywide.

They noted that less than one percent opted for sterilisation, blaming it on low acceptance level on males and females.

“It is possible to extract sperm from those who have undergone vasectomy and use it to make more children in case they want more in future or marry other women,” said Elly.

Cases of infertility

Dr Omanwa blamed late diagnosis and treatment of various diseases, including prostate cancer and uterine fibroids, for many cases of infertility.

He said 15 per cent of Kenyans (or 7.2 million) were infertile, adding that the number could be reduced if Kenyans went for early diagnosis and treatment.

He singled out gonorrhea as one of the diseases causing infertility, adding that there were more male than female who were infertile, though the latter bore the biggest blame

“Many Kenyans are infertile because they sought treatment too late. Instead of going for diagnosis, some go to traditional medicine practitioners and go to hospital when it is too late,” he said.

He spoke after meeting a woman at Msambweni hospital, who said she had a troubled marriage because she had not had a child for the last 10 years.

The woman, who was set to undergo a surgical procedure for uterine fibroids, said: “I have had a troubled marriage because of failure to have a child in the 10 years of marriage. Only my husband has stood by me”.

Early checkup

Joyce Kituku said only about three per cent of Kenyans went for early check-up for prostate and cervical cancers.

She noted that 5,000 Kenyans were diagnosed with cancer every year and 2,500 succumb to the disease.

“Infertility can be reduced by going for early checkups. At the moment, less than three per cent go for early checkup for cancer,” said Dr Kituku.

Meanwhile, Dr Were noted that the emergence of cancer among children under 18 years, particularly cervical and breast cancers, posed a major health challenge.

“We are concerned that breast and cervical cancers among persons under 18 years is on the rise. Some have blamed it on food and others on the environment,” he said.

He called for an intensified campaign on the Female Genital Mutilation, which he said continued to affect reproduction health.

Elly said they were also concerned about increased cases of unsafe abortion, which affects reproductive health even as the country strives to achieve the UHC.

The Kogs president said unsafe abortion had caused stigma, particularly among girls of school-going age. He noted that there were 400,000 cases of abortion annually.

Elly added that reproductive healthcare issues were the major causes of maternal mortality and morbidity.

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