STUDY HIGHLIGHTS NEED FOR BETTER SEX EDUCATION
By Winnie Kabinte
A study by Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020 (PMA2020-Kenya), a group that uses low-cost mobile technology to collect and disseminate family planning data, has found that girls in the rural areas of Kenya start having sex earlier than those in urban areas but don’t start using contraceptives until much later than their city-dwelling counterparts.
The study found that girls in rural areas start having sex at an average age of 16.8 years but don’t start using contraceptives until they reach the age of 22.9 years, on average. By then many of the young women have already had two unplanned children.
In urban areas, the study found, girls start having sex at an average of 18.6 years but start using contraceptives at an average age of 21.6 years, by which time many have had one unplanned child.
PMA2020-Kenya says the study shows the need for more effective strategies to improve access to contraception services and information for girls in the 15 to 24 years age range, particularly in rural areas.
Rural girls, the study suggests, lack such information with only three in ten receiving family planning information from health services in the full year before the data was gathered.
Unplanned pregnancies and early marriage are the main reasons why girls drop out of school.
“Unmarried users are less likely to have received counselling on other contraceptive methods and side effects than married users”, the study stated.
PMA2020-Kenya collected data from 120 representative regions across the country. The study was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with four Kenyan universities, the National Council for Population and Development, and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
‘YOUTH-FRIENDLY’ SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH SERVICES NEEDED
Evelyn Samba, the head of DSW, a reproduction health organisation called on the government to do more to deliver youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services and access to contraception.
“Counties, the providers of primary health services, including access to sexual and reproductive health, must put young people front and centre of the sexual and reproductive health conversation, she said at an event to mark World Contraceptive Day on Tuesday.
Ms Samba said young Kenyan girls are denied access to family planning information because of cultural and religious beliefs and misconceptions about sexuality.