Busia launches reproductive health strategy with focus on family planning

KENYA: Busia County has launched a reproductive health strategy aimed at addressing issues around family planning.

The strategy which was launched in Busia town on Friday will see a partnership between the Busia County Government and Centre for the Study of Adolescence (CSA) for the next three years to try and improve services to the youth of Busia County on matters touching on sexuality and sex education as priority services to the youth.

Speaking during the launch of the strategy Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong reiterated his government’s commitment in ensuring the highest healthcare standards in the county including the provision of services for the youth.

Ojaamong said health has been allocated a substantial portion of the budget in the next financial year and this is expected to see an improvement in the service delivery to the citizens of the county.

Albert Obbuyi, the executive director of CSA stated that one of the needs that the strategy seeks to address is the uptake of services by young people.

He stated that there has been an overstressing on physical infrastructure that service provision and quality have been forgotten.

“There is a temptation to focus on infrastructure that often the software is forgotten; therefore we must not forget that the youth have a lot of issues to be addressed,” says Obbuyi.

Another factor that has hindered reaching the youth, Obbuyi says, includes community aspects like values and religion. This he says has prevented the youth from taking up sexual and reproductive health services.

Obbuyi says the strategy goes beyond young and gives immense opportunity to people across different age groups.

“How do we synergise with partners working in Busia to support the county government in delivering quality health?” asked Obbuyi while challenging like-minded partners to join pool ideas and resources to help make Busia a model county.

He also argued that the strategy comes with cost plans that partners can choose from and decide on what aspect of the strategy they would want to support.

According to the Kenya Aids Indicator Survey (KAIS) 2012, 66 per cent of women had their first sexual debut aged between 15 and 24. This means that a high number of adolescent women have had their sexual encounter at that age.

Busia County has dedicated 26 per cent of its budget for health in the next financial year with focus being on key indicators like maternal and child health.

There are still many cases of teenage pregnancies in Busia mainly due to lack of proper information on sexual reproductive health and low uptake of contraceptive services.

Dr Maurice Siminyu, the county executive for health said that there is now focus on essentials like ambulances that to help save mothers from death while delivering. This, he says, is also coupled with the construction of maternity units across the county.

“Gross understaffing is still a challenge and this is visible in the 18 dispensaries that were constructed by the constituency development fund in the years past but have no health workers. So we have to make get more staff but also there is need to make the package attractive for health workers to come down to the counties,” said Dr Siminyu.

The Kenya Aids Response Report released by UNAIDS in March 2013 noted that one out of every ten people living with HIV in Kenya today is below the age of 14 while an almost similar number constitutes new infections. Also noted was the fact that 18 per cent of deaths due to HIV and AIDS related causes are those of children under 14.

Asumpta Matekwa says that maternal and newborn health has been made a priority in Busia because Busia is one of the counties with high maternal mortality ratios in Kenya alongside Siaya, Turkana and Kakamega.

She also says that since the county lies at the border with Uganda and has two border towns, Busia and Malaba, three out of every 50 people are living with HIV.  This is coupled with other health issues like cervical, prostrate and scrotal cancer.

The latest Kenya Demographic and Health Survey shows that Busia County still has a low contraceptive use which most likely could be the reason why there are high cases of pregnancies especially among the youth.