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Teen pregnancies decline as contraceptive uptake increases

  Kenya's teen pregnancy was the third-highest in the world in 2019. [iStockphoto]

Adolescent pregnancies are on a modest decline on Kenya, according to the latest figures from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

The economic survey released on Monday highlights a positive trend in the uptake of modern contraceptives across health facilities nationwide, from 2019 to 2023. This increase in contraceptive use aligns with the observed decrease in adolescent pregnancies.

According to the survey, injectable contraceptives emerged as the most popular family planning method, with significant increase in the number of women opting for this form of birth control.

Other women are going for progestin-only pills, implant insertions and bilateral tubal ligation (BTL) sterilisation.

However, the modest decline in teenage pregnancies underscores the challenges healthcare authorities and policymakers grapple with.

Among the youngest cohort aged 10 to 14 years, the number of pregnancies at the first antenatal care (ANC) visit dropped by 9.5 per cent from 21,527 in 2021 to 13,078 in 2022 to 11,831 in 2023.

The group aged 15 to 19 saw a 1.5 per cent decline, with 241,483 adolescents presenting with pregnancy at their initial antenatal visit in 2023, down from 294,193 in 2021, and 254,249 in 2022 respectively.

The national figures also highlight regional disparities in adolescent pregnancy rates.

Several counties, including Nairobi, Bungoma, Kakamega, and Narok, reported the highest incidents of adolescent pregnancy at their first ANC visit in 2023.

These regional variations underscore the need for targeted interventions and tailored strategies to address the unique socio-economic, cultural, and educational factors contributing to teenage pregnancies in specific geographic areas.

The economic survey shows that addressing adolescent pregnancies requires a multifaceted approach that promotes access to, and uptake of modern contraceptives.

The report provides insights into the changing landscape of contraceptive use in the country over the past five years.

During this period, there was an increase in the number of new clients seeking family planning implant insertions and BTL sterilisation for women, which reduced from 8,971 in 2019 to 4,727 in 2023.

In 2023, family planning injections became the most popular contraceptive method, with 2.8 million clients opting for it. Implants followed closely, with 1 million new clients seeking insertions in the same period.

Meanwhile, new clients of Implant Insertion increased from 514,213 in 2019 to 686,954 in 2023 with revisits increasing from 218,768 in 2019 to 320,945 in 2023.

However, a concerning trend has emerged with the number of men seeking vasectomy decreasing by a staggering from 658, which represents 30.2 per cent to just 389 clients in 2023.

This decline highlights a potential gap in male participation in family planning, which could impact overall efforts to reduce adolescent pregnancy rates.

According to the report, the modest decline in adolescent pregnancy rates is a step in the right direction, but a lot of work lies ahead.

Policymakers, healthcare providers, and community stakeholders must collaborate to develop targeted interventions tailored to the unique needs of different demographics.

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