Kenya may not achieve MDG 5 on maternal health, say experts

October 29, 2010

Posted by The KC team

The Alliance hosts a citizen journalism programme called Key Correspondents (KCs).

Writes Key Correspondent, David Njagi.

Experts have faulted Kenya’s roadmap towards achieving safe motherhood indicating that the East African country may not achieve the 2015 MDG target on maternal health.

A pinball budget, lack of a Reproductive Health Bill and contraceptives stock outs are some of the indicators being linked to the slow progress of family planning services among the poor in Kenya.

According to the Center for Study of Adolescents (CSA), lack of information and access to contraceptives, could explain the population surge among poor households in Kenya, a trend that was also captured by the latest national census.

“We have information that most women in Kenya are not able to handle family planning due to shortage of contraceptives,” says CSA executive director, Rosemary Muganda. “In other instances women fear that their husbands may reject them if they find out they are using contraceptives because of lack of awareness on the need for family planning among couples.”

Details of the latest Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) suggest Kenyans who have reached primary level of education may be ignorant on family planning, where almost half of the women reportedly do not use contraceptives.

Although the government allocated a billion shillings to support family planning programmes for the 2010/11 financial year, Muganda estimates that about five billion shillings is needed to ensure that Kenyans have access to the service.

However, Population Council president, Peter J. Donaldson is hopeful that Kenya could win a slice of funding from last month’s New York MDGs meeting, but cautions that donor aid alone does not guarantee safe motherhood is reflected among the poor in Sub Saharan Africa.

“The technology for safe motherhood is available but the flow of money alone into intervention programmes is not enough to improve family planning services among the poor,” said Mr. Donald during a recent stop in Nairobi.

“The senior political leadership can get new enthusiasm by tapping ideas from countries that have successful models from the MDG summit and tailor them to meet the needs of the poor” he said.

A July report by the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) linked the rise in teenage pregnancies in Kenyan slums to low contraceptive use and unprotected sex.

The report which compared findings of among others, contraceptive use in Nairobi slums and lower middle income areas suggested that teenagers as old as 14 years are engaging in sex, but those from the upper end residents are likely to use contraceptives and protection.

Last month, a World Health Organization (WHO) report indicated the number of women dying from pregnancy related complications had declined by 34 per cent.

WHO director general, Dr. Margaret Chan, however said achieving the 75 per cent decline in maternal deaths by 2015 will depend on whether governments can meet an annual reduction rate of 5.5 per cent.

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