Adolescent girls in Kakamega are afraid of seeking reproductive health services as a result of stigma and harmful cultural practices.
As a result, the International Committee for the Development of People (CISP) in partnership with Italian National Institute of Health (ISS) and researchers from Masinde Muliro University is initiating policy briefs to address the problem that has led to increasing teenage pregnancy cases.
The Programme Manager of CISP Esther Waduu said in Kakamega that most girls have the information about the services and are aware the services are available but they find challenges in accessing them.
“We have met with health stakeholders, Community Health Volunteers (CHVs),Teachers and the department of children services to identify the barriers that hinder access to adolescent services so that we can address them as stakeholders,” she noted.
She said harmful cultural practices where parents, guardians of teenagers impose those cultures on their children that they are not supposed to access reproductive health services, because they are children, leave them without any other option.
Waduu said that after the workshop, CHVs will be empowered on reproductive health messaging to relay the messages directly to the youth within the community.
The stakeholders also identified lack of linkages between the youth department and the Ministry of Health as another setback.
“The Ministry of Health should link up with the department of youth so that they can collaborate and ensure that youth empowerment centers are utilised by reproductive health officers in educating adolescents,” she pointed out.
A researcher at Masinde Muliro University Dr Rose Olayo regretted that they discovered that Kakamega has failed to fully implement policies on adolescents which could have led to a reduction of teenage pregnancy cases.
“We have certain policies that exist on paper but are not being implemented. One reason could be because of lack of resources or challenges with human resource capacity,” she said.
She also said that the county lacks adolescent friendly services which deter the adolescents from accessing those services.
The County coordinator of Beyond Zero Mobile Outreach programme in Kakamega Eliud Molenje said that Malava is among the leading sub counties with high teenage pregnancy cases followed by Lurambi and Ikolomani.
By Moses Wekesa