, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 23 – Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o has said there is need to promote use of birth control and encourage sex education in schools to avoid the debate whether or not to legalise abortion.
Professor Nyong’o said on Tuesday that unless this was done, illegal abortions would continue to thrive leading to loss of lives for both the mother and child.
“Let us not be myopic about this issue… let us know that there must be sex education in schools, homes and communities. Women should be empowered in looking after themselves and family planning methods should be available in society and should be handled by professional people,” the Minister said.
Speaking to journalists, Mr Nyong’o reiterated that the issue of abortion should not be included in the Constitution because it was a matter of faith and philosophy.
He said both men and women should be encouraged to get information in the area of reproductive health.
The Minister’s comments correspond with what reproductive health experts have been saying about abortion.
“But if you go blindly and say we don’t want people to use birth control methods, because it is sinful, you are entering into a realm of religion and not everybody wants to share your belief. My take on it is that let us look at the reality in the eye,” he said.
He spoke after launching a National Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics Reference Manual to aid in delivery of curative and rehabilitative health services.
Professor Nyong’o noted that the government was not well prepared to handle cholera and other water borne diseases that came up following the short rain season leading to malnutrition.
“Even after you have been treated of cholera, you must go into a high nutritious diet to restore the body and many people may not know this,” he said.
He pointed out that malnutrition caused tremendous devastation in developing countries with far reaching and pervasive negative consequences beyond death toll.
He said globally, under-nutrition was responsible for 3.5 million child deaths per year and over 20 percent of maternal mortality.
“Close to 50 percent of the population in Kenya is food insecure and therefore at great risk of developing clinical malnutrition,” he said.
Professor Nyong’o urged medicine and therapeutic committees in all health facilities to assist in the integration and strengthening of nutrition services in a standardised manner.