, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 9 – A medical expert at the Ministry of Public Health has said there is need to enhance sex education to move away from the current debate over legalising abortion.
Dr Martin Sirengo of the National Aids and STI Control Programme (NASCOP) said the population should be well informed about family planning methods including use of condoms to avoid situations where women get unwanted pregnancies and opt for abortions.
In an exclusive interview with Capital News, Dr Sirengo said the contraception intake in Kenya was quite low at only 40 percent which could be a reason for rising cases of unplanned pregnancies.
“We need to strengthen the primary level prevention like sex education and advise the Kenyan population how to have safe sex because when someone has the information they are empowered and can then make the right choices,” Dr Sirengo said.
“This will keep them away from getting into that scenario where they are pregnant and they have to procure an abortion,” he stated.
He however said knowledge, availability of family planning commodities and culture, were some of the factors that influenced use of contraception. Dr Sirengo said the heated abortion debate was because of failure by the society to educate the youth on issues of sexuality which had also left them exposed to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.
"When we talk about abortion it means there was unprotected sex in the first place so it is our duty to first preach to the population to observe abstinence, be faithful to one partner if they cannot abstain and if not, they should use condoms consistently and correctly,” he said.
Dr Sirengo said condoms had an efficacy level of up to 95 percent in preventing pregnancies when used correctly and consistently while at the same time protecting one from sexually transmitted infections.
He emphasised that condoms are provided free in all public health facilities and Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) centers in the country.
“We have just finalised drafting sexuality guidelines that have not been there and we hope that these guidelines will shed light on a few areas that have been either dark or grey,” Dr Sirengo said.
“The guidelines were finished two months ago. They are with the editors who are reviewing them and we hope that we should finish by the end of this month and disseminate them for use.”
He said the guidelines would not only be provided in health facilities but also in centers of learning starting from secondary level to higher institutions of learning.
“Sex is a natural drive just like a drive to get food, shelter…it is a basic need and however much you say or talk about abstinence, people will still engage in sex. So it is our duty to educate them to engage in safe sex,” he said.
The inclusion of a clause in the proposed Constitution prohibiting abortion in Kenya has sparked heated arguments with a section of Kenyans saying this infringed on a woman’s right to choice.