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A good idea, bad execution

Health & Science - By Standard Digital | July 9th 2010 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

By Dann Okoth

Experts warn that low empowerment of women on sexual and reproductive health rights is undermining gains in the health sector.

Despite increased awareness on issues like family planning, HIV/Aids and abortion, many women are not in charge of their reproductive health.

"The women are not empowered enough to negotiate with their spouses on such issues and the challenge is to empower them to be able to do so," says Dr Sarah Onyango, regional director of Planned Parenthood Federation of American.

She adds that current interventions do not address the critical need to educate women and men on their sexual and reproductive health rights.

Specifically, she notes, sex education, which is now taught in schools to equip students with knowledge on their sexuality, has not achieved much. "This is because teachers have not been trained to facilitate such learning. Matters are even worse in rural areas where sex is regarded as a taboo subject," says Onyango.

The 2008-09 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey says more women die at childbirth today than eight years ago. The survey found that more than half of women give birth without the help of qualified birth attendants. Two in every five births are delivered at health a facility, with 56 per cent delivered at home.

Mr Jared Omondi, a community health worker in Nyando District, says traditional beliefs and practices are also stifling access to reproductive health services.

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