Gains made in controlling communicable diseases in Kisii County may be negated if members of the public continue to avoid medical services during the ongoing Covid19 pandemic period, area Inter-ministerial Population Policy Steering committee has learnt.
During a roundtable discussion on effects of Covid-19 on population and development in Kisii, the committee also noted with concern a spike in the County’s teenage pregnancies with most affected being in the 10-14 age brackets.
Speaking during the committee meeting at the Probation Hall in Kisii town, area Reproduction Health Coordinator, Leah Ogega said many clinics were closed due to lack of clients, leading some of the workers to lose their jobs.
“Mothers are not seeking services in the anti-natal and post-natal clinics including family planning, HIV and immunization for their babies, causing fear that government’s efforts to control communicable diseases among other health complications might be negated,” said Ogega.
Ogega noted there was need to use Community health Volunteers, chiefs and local media to encourage the residents seek medical services without fear of being infected with the Coronavirus as the Ministry of Health had put up measures to prevent its spread.
“If mothers fail to seek services including the teenagers (10-14 years) whose pregnancy rate in the first four months of this year has tripled to 652 as compared to those of last year, the county could experience a myriad of maternal child health challenges by the end of their gestation period,” she observed.
She said the teenage pregnancy for January to March had increased from 189 last year to 652 for ages 10-14, while for age 15-19, had reduced slightly from 4,518 to 3,641 during the same period.
Ogega who was addressing the 19 members in attendance said perpetrators included close relatives, neighbours, and peers among others where some of the cases went unreported to law enforcers.
The MOH, she said, had revamped the service areas to fit the health guidelines and therefore all residents should utilize the youth friendly services where those who deliver in the hospitals are issued with incentives like sanitary material for their newborns.
She added that every maternity facility was currently equipped to prevent maternal deaths which occur due to negligence or Covid-19 disease among other causes.
The service areas are marked for social distancing, Sanitizers and water supplied for efficient observance with the health protocols.
The Deputy County Commissioner, Leornard Mgute decried increase in teenage pregnancy describing the situation as pathetic as it was happening when the children are supposed to be in their safest place, home.
Mgute urged the committee to come up with recommendations that will assist the government and the whole society mitigate the challenges that make the home the weakest point for child protection.
He appealed to child care givers including parents and guardians to sacrifice their time and care for children during the school closure, even as the government ensures safest measures are put in place before schools reopen.
Speaking on the state of education during the covid-19 pandemic, Sameta Sub-County Quality Assurance and Standards Officer Josphine Obinda said that teenage pregnancy will translate to reduced enrollment for girls as many drop out.
Obinda said even those who get back to school after delivery will require ample support to settle back into learning.
Mgute called for innovative ways to host the upcoming World Population Day which will be held on July 11 to ensure observance of the MOH health guidelines.
The committee agreed to have mobile sensitization road shows, Local media stations programmes and distribution of limited Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) materials as some of the activities leading to the World Population Day.
The Nyanza South Population Coordinator, Rose Wakuloba said all recommendations would be forwarded to the national Committee ahead of the World Population day whose theme is ‘putting breaks on Covid19: How to safeguard health of women and girls.”
Others present, included Ezekiel Onyancha from the Department of Culture, Daniel Kirui, Youth Affairs, Joseph Nyaramba representing County Government and Vincent Aminga of Economic and Planning Directorate.
By Jane Naitore