Family planning is an issue that has been overemphasized – in my view – but the response from the general population is still wanting. This is especially so in developing countries where population growth rate is very high. A case in point is Kenya where it’s projected that by the year 2030, the population will be somewhere close to double what it is now.
Companies and organizations have come forward in support for the education of the general population on the subject but most of them have continually failed in one or two areas. To start with, the campaigns have been so much in the print and electronic media. Kenya being a country of ten millionaires and ten million beggars, radio and television ownership is a reserve for those with access to electricity and finance to buy the device and even tap the electricity into their houses.
I might sound cynical about the Kenyan situation, but truth be told, a very small percentage of people get the information about family planning and especially on contraception. This results to a high percentage of people with unmet need for family planning.
Though about four out of ten children in Kenya know about condoms, very few know how to use them. I used ‘children’ deliberately because with the technological advancement in Kenya, at the age of 10 years, children know close to everything they were supposed to know when they are 18 years. Remember that the youngest mother in the world is 9 years old.
The fact about the youngest mother in the world does not, however, put into consideration the young Turkana girls who are ‘given’ – for the lack of a better word – to warriors to satisfy their sexual needs since the warriors are not supposed to marry. The young girls do not know anything about condoms; and if they do, the warriors do not want to hear of it, let alone use it or it’s out of their reach.
I commend public universities who have installed condom dispensers in every corner of the institution. But my questions are: are they used? Do students know how to use them? Are they entirely safe? Are they the only ways methods of contraception?
Are they used?
Many campus ladies and gentlemen get trapped with unwanted pregnancies. Campus is a place for exploitation. Though I don’t support sexual exploitation in campus, I can’t stop those who want to do it! The rampant rates of pregnancies and abortions in Kenyan campuses stem from the lack of use of family planning methods. A young man and lady out enjoying their moments after a hectic day end up making a baby unknowingly.
Panic sets in when the lady realizes that she’s pregnant. With the Generation Y’s fear of responsibility, the young man exonerates himself from the fault and blames it on the lady for ‘not being smart enough to use pills’. He might even go to the extend of dumping her! The lady sees that her reputation, education and future is at stake, she decides to abort.
Some manage to do it successfully while others end up regretting if not dead. The abortion process is not a walk in the park. I was listening to KISS 100 Breakfast Show sometimes back where ladies were calling in and narrating their abortion ordeals. It was horrible! Judging from their ages, most of them are/should be in institutions of higher learning – collages, campuses… How bad is the situation? Too bad if you asked me
Today, I was listening to the same show hosted by Mutoko and Jalang’o and the topic was contraceptive use. I must admit that the number of people who called to the show was worrying. What they talked on air really painted the situation in the country…. I commend Caroline Mutoko for being such a blunt lady when laying facts right.
Do students know how to use the various method of contraception?
That might sound like a cheap and misplaced question because of one of the following reasons. One, it’s embarrassing for a man to confess to his girlfriend/fiancée/wife that he doesn’t know how to put on a condom. Two, there is usually no time to talk about condoms or contraceptive methods before a sexual encounter because they are usually one-night-stands or you trust your partner so much that you don’t care. Lastly, you are a believer of the misconception that ‘eating a banana with the coverings is not sweet’.
I thing school curriculums should not shy away from this ugly truth that STUDENTS ARE HAVING SEX. Be it in primary, secondary or campuses. These things happen! I hear that plans are in the pipeline to incorporate an element of HIV in every course done at campus. I say the need for one to have some basic knowledge on family planning is as great as the need for one to have basic communication skills.
In the same spirit of teaching communication skills to everybody at campus, there should be something on HIV and family planning. Call it Health101, FP101 or whatever… but it should be there.
Are they entirely safe?
I heard of a story of an Egerton University student who realized that she was HIV positive and decided that the best way to cool her tempers and satisfy her ego is by pocking holes in unused condoms are returning them into the dispensers. This means that even those ones who have knowledge on contraceptive use and were using them were still at risk of getting pregnant or getting infections – including HIV.
Apart from that, there are side effects associated with some contraceptives. Weight gain, nausea, loss of periods or heavy periods is some of the side effects of injectables, pills and implants. Most campus girls wouldn’t want such experiences. However, with some knowledge about them and reassurance that the side effects are not harmful to their health, I believe they can embrace them!
In the end, what am I talking about? For Kenya to achieve the Vision 2030, it must invest in family planning so that it lowers the population growth rate. By investing in family planning, I don’t mean production of contraceptives only but also in increasing their awareness, availability and accessibility. The more the public knowledge on contraceptives, the higher the chances that they will select one that suits them.