Public hospitals report increase in demand for family planning services

A new survey has revealed that the uptake of contraceptives has contributed to the decline in unintended pregnancy from 42 to 37 per cent in the year 2020. 

According to the survey released Thursday, some (10 per cent) of the public hospitals reported that they experienced a dramatic increase in the demand for family planning services.

The report further shows that Kenya meets 76 per cent of the demand for contraception by modern methods, a slight increase from 70 per cent in 2014, and 74 per cent in 2019.

The survey that collected information from more than 9,000 women also shows that the use of modern methods of contraceptives increased from 56 to 61 per cent in 2020.

The lead researcher of the survey Prof Peter Gichangi from the International Centre for Reproductive Health Kenya (ICRH-K) said that the government of Kenya amidst Covid-19 put in measures that ensured continuity of Sexual and Reproductive Health service provision.

Gichangi noted that the responses from the women show that despite Covid-19 disrupting health services, women still sought emergency contraception, condoms, pills, injections and implants to delay or space pregnancy.

“Majority of the hospitals (70 per cent) said they ordered the commodities but did not receive them, which could be explained by an interruption in the supply chain,” read the statement in part.

The survey also shed light on family planning choices and marital status of women, with married women using modern contraceptives more than their unmarried counterparts, 58 per cent in 2019 and 62 per cent in 2020, as compared to 56 and 61 per cent in that very period for the latter group.

However, unmarried women prefer short-acting methods like emergency contraception, while their married counterparts chose long-acting methods.

The most popular method for unmarried women, the survey showed is male condoms 29 per cent, injectables and implants both at 26 per cent.

The married woman on the other hand preferred injectables at 39 per cent and implants at 37 per cent.

“We may never know how effective those interventions were, but data such as the one released today makes a case for constantly collecting information, analysing and using it to inform how we respond to family planning needs,” Prof Gichangi, who is also the Principal Investigator of PMA Kenya explained.

Prof Gichangi noted despite the willingness of women to plan and space childbirth, more than half (56 per cent) said they did not get “comprehensive information” when receiving the family planning services.

According to Mary Thiong’o, PMA Kenya Senior Technical Advisor at International Centre for Reproductive Health Kenya (ICRH Kenya), such information includes possible side effects or problems, where to go if and when they experience them, other family planning methods available apart from the one they were getting and whether they could change.

“This can lead to women not being satisfied, which can contribute to method discontinuation and uniformed method switching. This, therefore, calls for strengthening the quality of care and counselling services by the service providers” said Thiong’o.

The study comes out when health and development players expressed concerns about the rise in unintended pregnancies due to the lockdowns, curfews and disrupted health services caused by the pandemic.

  

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