Perceived poor quality of services, inappropriate treatment and discrimination by health professionals deter many adolescents from seeking sexual and reproductive health services.
The Nakuru County Reproductive Health Officer (CRHO), Mrs. Jacinta Mwangi said universal access to Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) implies that services were available, accessible and acceptable to meet different needs of individuals.
She was speaking on Wednesday during a seminar on Sexual Reproductive Health for adolescents at a Nakuru hotel.
However, she said, unplanned and adolescent pregnancies figures keep on rising due to adolescents’ unwillingness to freely discuss reproductive issues over fear of being labelled immoral by parents, the church and the community.
Mwangi said lack of access to SRH information contributes to high levels of morbidity and mortality for largely preventable health problems in the country. Every year, she said, about 2, 600 women and girls died due to unintended pregnancies and inappropriate abortion care.
According to the 2014 Population Council Report, 14 per cent of pregnancies in Kenya ended in abortion, and most of the abortions were performed by unskilled people, often in conditions that do not meet minimal medical standards.
The reproductive health expert said restrictions on information about sexuality, contraception, prevention and healthcare limited peoples’ ability to make choices regarding their sexual and reproductive rights.
She added that guarantee to Sexual Reproductive Health services and information was essential for achieving many, if not all, of the sustainable development goals, especially those on maternal health, child survival, HIV and AIDS and gender equality.
Meanwhile, the country’s HIV prevalence rate is now at six per cent which is a major drop from the 10-11 per cent recorded in the mid-1990s when the disease was at its peak.
However, Mrs. Mwangi said the dream of an HIV free generation would only be made possible through access to reproductive health services. She was speaking today during a seminar at a Nakuru hotel.
She said increased access to Anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs has drastically reduced deaths associated with the disease and as a result, those with the disease have become productive members of their communities.
The CRHO urged everybody to go for testing to know their status; and if infected to get initiated on treatment and sustain the lifelong treatment to stay healthy.
She said although the immense progress was laudable, the war was far from over since a number of people don’t take their reproductive health seriously and casual sex was still common.
Mrs. Mwangi appealed to young people to take their health seriously because even without gainful employment, as long as one was healthy, there was a lot they would achieve in life.
She warned them against early marriages and unintended pregnancies, which not only limited their freedom and made their lives more difficult but also propelled them to adulthood at a very young age.
By Veronica Bosibori