High uptake of over the counter birth control pills worries experts

Mombasa County has started collection of data to establish the exact number of contraceptives users amid concerns of high cases of over the counter birth control pills rather than clinical prescriptions.

The county public health Chief Officer Pauline Oginga revealed that an estimated 45 per cent of people, who have attained reproductive age visit hospitals for consultation, screening, counselling and prescription of the right family planning method.

“We cannot control what is being sold over the counter and at the same time, not everybody meets the criteria for using specific family planning methods. You stand a risk of developing advanced effects,” added Oginga in an interview with KNA.

The county projects to reach 187,554 people who have attained reproductive age, in its family planning services this financial year.

The county had put in place its 2018-2022 family planning programme aimed at improving access to family planning services and raising awareness among the residents on different family planning methods.

Oginga observed that six youth friendly centers launched a few months ago in informal areas have helped many access family planning services with ease.

She noted that the county has employed innovative ways to encourage locals, particularly youths, to visit health facilities for proper family planning services.

The County through its Health Sector Strategic and Investment Plan (CHSIP II) for 2018-2022 aims to increase the number of women receiving family planning from 39 to 54 per cent.

She added that they have engaged private pharmacies and chemists through their association to share data for proper establishment of contraceptives uptake in the region.

Members of the public were also cautioned that drugs procured over the counter could pose health risks since some pharmacies, especially those in backstreets, could be selling counterfeit birth control pills.

“It has been said, the majority of those who prefer buying contraceptives over the counter are men. We encourage our people to visit our hospitals so that they can be properly advised on the right family planning methods,” advised Oginga.

She warned counterfeits, substandard and fake pharmaceutical drugs could lead to unwanted pregnancies and health problems including blood pressure and blood clot.

Oginga also called for involvement of men in the family planning decisions revealing: “There are many methods available to men. For example vasectomy, which is an option available to men especially older ones who have had children.”

Last week, the county received a mobile family planning service clinic from John Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics (Jhpiego).

According to Jhpiego’s project director in charge of The Challenge Initiative (TCI) program, Mr Paul Nyachae Mombasa is among ten counties to benefit from wagons that would be used as mobile clinics.

Other counties that will benefit include Kilifi, Siaya, Vihiga, Migori, Nakuru, Bugoma, Nyamira, Trans-Nzoia and Nairobi.

“The main initiative of the vehicle is to deliver maternal child health services to the areas that are hard to reach and to provide a decent environment for women, girls and children to be able to receive services,” added Nyachae.

Nyachae said the wagons donated under Challenge Initiative Program will supplement the county government to bring family planning services closer to residents in informal settlements and other inaccessible areas.



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