, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 3 – Kenya is faced with a shortage of contraceptives due to over reliance on donors, according to Family Health Options, the government agency that deals with family planning.
Director of Programs Muraguri Muchira said on Monday that injectables which were the most common method of contraception in Kenya were currently not readily available and said this was part of a major stock-out in the country.
“We don’t have enough of them in the government supplies or even the Non Governmental Organisations. In our (Family Health Options) case, we are sometimes forced to buy from the private sector which is very expensive and we can’t afford to buy enough quantities to meet the demands,” Mr Muchira said.
He added that this constant commodity insecurity where the family planning methods are not readily available had led to 25 percent of Kenyan women lacking the service.
“The biggest challenge we have as a country is the sourcing of contraceptives. Kenya depends highly on development partners and each one of them brings their supplies in their own different channels. So it’s very difficult to know how much is being brought in the country at any one time. And as far as I know nobody has come up with a solution,” he said.
Mr Muchira said that Family Health Options got over 90 percent of its contraceptives from the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA) and revealed that a series of meetings had been ongoing to solve the problem.
Kenya mainly gets its contraceptives from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the German government.
“There isn’t one coordinating committee or agency or unit. So it’s very difficult to know how much is being brought into the country at any one time. We do not want to have a huge supply of condoms for example when we don’t have other contraceptives like the pills,” he said.
Medical Services Minister Professor Anyang’ Nyong’o said that the contraceptive insecurity was to blame for the increased use of herbal alternatives that were harmful to health.
“If our women don’t have access to contraceptives, then they will result to these herbalists who then give them what seems to be cheap but what in the final analysis is very expensive to their health,” Professor Nyong’o said.
“This is a health disaster. What it tells us is not to just deal with those herbalists but to take a much more preventive measure to make the contraceptives available to the women,” he added.
He said the government had appealed for more support on reproductive health from donor partners.
“But also let us not forget that a lot of it has to do with awareness and education to intensify reproductive health education from primary schools,” he said.
Partners in Population and Development Executive Director Harry Jooseery noted that in the last ten years, investment in family planning in most developing countries had fallen from 55 percent to about seven percent.
“Family planning has lost focus amidst shifts in international health and development priorities. It is estimated that 137 million women who want to avoid a pregnancy are not using any Family Planning Methods,” he said.
In Kenya 45 percent of women have unwanted pregnancies annually.