More women and girls are using modern contraceptive methods, making Kenya one of the nine countries on track to meet the goals set for growth in contraceptive use by next year.
A ground-breaking report on family planning launched on Monday shows that women and girls in Africa are rapidly embracing the use of condoms, injectables, implants and the pill.
As a result, the report estimates that 119 million unintended pregnancies, 21 million unsafe abortions and 134,000 maternal deaths were prevented last year alone.
The statistics are contained in a new report, FP2020: Women at the Centre, produced by Family Planning 2020, launched on Monday on the sidelines of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Nairobi.
"The evidence is clear -- when you invest in women and girls, the good deed never ends. Barriers are broken and opportunities open up that not only lift women out of poverty, but can elevate society and bring about economic gains. No other single change can do more to improve the state of the world," said Beth Schlachter, executive director of Family Planning 2020.
FP2020 is a global partnership to empower women and girls by investing in rights-based family planning.
With a modern contraceptive rate of 60 per cent, Kenya has surpassed its FP2020 commitment to increase use among married women to 58 per cent.
But this progress also masks the problems of equity and quality. For instance, while most Kenyans have access to contraceptives, those who do not are arguably populations that are already underserved -- unmarried young people and adolescents, the economically vulnerable, linguistically or culturally isolated, or who face other barriers to care.
Besides, access to contraceptives remains inadequately low in some areas.
Since 2012, roughly 53 million women and girls started using modern contraceptives in 69 of the world's poorest countries, bringing the total to 314 million, out of 926 million women and girls of childbearing age worldwide. The number of girls and women of reproductive age has risen by 100 million since 2012. But it is eastern and southern Africa that have recorded the greatest gains, at about seven per cent.
The report says that only Kenya and eight of the 69 countries are on track to meet the goals set for growth in contraceptive use by next year. They are Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Ghana, Kyrgyz Republic, Mozambique Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. Another 13 countries are within a few percentage points of reaching their goals.
Meanwhile, Nigeria has the second slowest growing uptake rate after Mali in West Africa.
The rate at which women and girls are using modern contraceptives globally increased by about two per cent since 2012.
But even when countries maintain stable use, the number of users goes up due to population growth.
Funding remains a key obstacle. The report notes that women's healthcare is underfunded throughout the world, with about 230 million women and girls who want access to contraceptives not getting them.
In 2017, international donors contributed about 45 per cent of family planning funds; domestic governments about 32 per cent; out-of-pocket spending about 19 per cent and other domestic sources, such as local non-governmental organisations, corporations and insurance companies, about four per cent.