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Effects of frequent use of short-term contraceptives

Health experts have warned Kenyans to stop using short term family planning methods for a long period of time due to its serious side effects.

The warning comes ahead of world Contraception Day on 26th, September 2022.

Dr Andrew Mulwa, the Ag Director of Medical services cum Head directorate of preventive and promotive services said the emergency contraceptive should only be used two to three times a year, and not every other time.

Mulwa who was speaking Thursday during a media round table meeting on World Contraception Day 2022, said as much as family planning is very important for helping people to space children, it can have adverse side effects when abused.

Dr. Andrew Mulwa, Acting Director of Medical Services and Head Directorate preventive services gave his keynote speech Thursday at the Sarova Stanley Hotel on Government commitment on family planning. Photo by Wickliff Ananda

“If you want to stay a longer time without getting pregnant, use the long-term family planning methods instead of using short term methods repeatedly,” said Dr Mulwa.

For example, Mulwa questioned why one would use injectables which require injections every 1 or 3 months, for 3 years while reversible methods like implants could serve them better.

While men remain to be decision makers in the community, Dr. Mulwa said it is so alarming that less than 500 men use vasectomy compared to over 4 million young women accessing family planning.

He emphasised that the role of men in family planning is very critical and thus they should be involved.

Dr Mulwa reiterated the importance of contraception adding: “If we don’t take care of the population now, we will deal with the negative impact of population explosion in future.”

He noted that the unmet need of modern contraception among women will reduce unwanted pregnancies from 2.3 million in 2021 to 1.8 million in 2024 and avert a million births, over half a million unsafe abortions and 5800 maternal deaths by 2024 thus reducing unmet family planning needs by 6.7 per cent.

“The use of contraception prevents pregnancy related health risks for women when births are separated by less than 2 years, the infant mortality rate is 45 per cent higher than it is when children are born 2-3 years apart and 60 per cent higher when births are 4 or more years apart, so in other words use of contraception reduces maternal mortality significantly,” said the Director.

He noted that one of the major challenges that the country is facing is a youthful population that is not meaningfully engaged, saying in Kenya 66 per cent of the population is under the age of 25years.

“Most of the young people do not have jobs because the population is larger than the opportunities that are available, so we are already reaping the consequences of not advocating for family planning in the earlier years,” Mulwa added.

He underlined the fact that it doesn’t matter how the economy grows as long as the number of people to feed is growing every day.

On donor funds, Mulwa revealed that there is a gap of close to Sh1.3 million every year in the family planning space.

Mulwa stated that in the financial year 2013/14 the donor funding was about 2.3 billion that has been reduced to Sh777 million in 2020/21 financial year almost 60 per cent decline in donor financing.

Nevertheless, Mulwa said the government has taken responsibility and is growing economy and by 2026 it is expected to take over some of the programming issues explaining that in 2019/20 financial year the government had Sh559 billion towards family planning, and 863 M in 2021/22. “This year we have been allocated Sh1.19 billion which is about 43 per cent of the annual requirement,” he added.

“Without sustainable domestic finance, there will be less access to family planning uptake which will adversely affect health and increase the national burden on school and domestic purchase power and this will in turn affect war on extreme poverty,” Mulwa said.

In his remarks during the meeting, Head, department of family health Bashir Issak said family planning is not a women’s business and urged men to also access vasectomy dismissing a myth that it leads to impotence.

He noted that most of the people do not use contraception following myths that are misleading saying that family planning can only delay fertility for some few months but does not cause infertility.

“Let us stop these myths surrounding contraception such as it brings cancer and lowers the sexual desire as it is instead a development issue that helps in controlling our population,” said Issak.

By Catherine Muindi

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