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County family planning strategies key to Kenya’s quest for development

By Evelyn Samba | July 10th 2018

Kenya aspires to be a newly industrialising, middle-income country, providing a high quality life to all its citizens by the year 2030. This aspiration is commonly referred to as Vision 2030. Vision 2030, the Constitution of Kenya 2010, and other policy documents articulate Kenya’s ambition of providing citizens with the highest possible standards of health services, including sexual and reproductive health.

Besides being one of the paths towards realising high standards of health, family planning gives up to five times the investment, as shown by the ImpactNow policy model. When the National Council for Population and development (NCPD) and the Health Policy Project (HPP) applied the ImpactNow policy model in 2015 for Kenya, every Sh85 spent on family planning was projected to accrue savings of Sh381 in direct healthcare costs by 2020.

Domestic resources invested in family planning also accrue savings in other areas - the cost of providing water and sanitation, education among other social services and amenities. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1968 International Conference on Human Rights, where family planning was, for the first time, globally affirmed to be a human right.

Economic development

The conference’s outcome document, known as the Teheran Proclamation, states that parents have a basic right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children. Family planning accelerates economic development by contributing to economic growth at the household, community, and national levels. It improves women’s opportunities for education, employment, and full participation in society.

Whether in school, formal or informal occupations, women who have the benefit of choosing when to have children, how many to have and how much time between each child, are likely to do better in life. This way, family planning enables girls and women to go to school, make better and higher incomes and participate in shared activities in their communities.

County governments are key in enabling Kenyans access the right to plan their families. They are responsible for planning and executing family planning programmes in Kenya. With the advent of devolution in 2013, the responsibility of planning and executing family planning programmes fell at the feet of county governments.

The fourth schedule of the Constitution directs that county governments are responsible for the majority of health service provision functions, including providing family planning services.Along with the responsibility to provide family planning services, county governments also bear the duty to invest in the necessary enablers to provide the services.

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It is therefore vital that county governments think strategically about family planning programmes. Many county governments are developing multi-year actionable roadmaps called family planning costed implementation plans, designed to help them achieve their family planning goals.

These plans address and budget for all thematic areas of a family planning programme: demand creation; service delivery and access; contraceptive security; policy and enabling environment; financing; and stewardship, management, and accountability.

Family planning

Developing county family planning costed implementation plans enables county governments to prioritize family planning interventions, detail key activities and outline a roadmap for implementation; forecast costs and make strategic allocation decisions, estimate the impacts of interventions, mobilise resources to meet gaps and unify stakeholders around one focused family planning strategy.

In Nandi County, for example, the family planning costed implementation plan 2017-2021 estimates that the county needs one Sh1 billion over the next five years for the county’s family planning programme. The funds are earmarked for things such as medical supplies, awareness campaigns and to pay for salaries for healthcare workers among other costs.

When achieved, family planning goals will save lives and improve the health and wellbeing of women, families and communities, as well as help Kenya get closer to achieving vision 2030 goals.

Through the different opportunities provided for public participation, citizens can also use the plans to hold their elected leaders to account if sufficient investments are not made.

At the Family Planning Summits of 2012 and 2017, Kenya joined other stakeholders in committing to address the policy, financing, delivery and socio-cultural barriers to women accessing contraceptive information, services and supplies.

Several counties, including Nandi, Nakuru and Kilifi, have launched and are implementing their county family planning costed implementation plans. By doing so, they are doing their bit in helping the nation realise her development aspirations.

Ms Samba is the Kenya country director at Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung (DSW), a global development organisation. [email protected]

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