Kenya: Unintended Pregnancies on the Rise as Family Planning Declines - Study

(file photo).

The rate of unintended pregnancies has increased in the country as the uptake of family planning services declined, a survey released by Performance Monitoring and Action (PMA) has revealed.

Professor Peter Gichangi, the Principal Investigator at PMA noted that the rate of unintended pregnancies has increased over time and now stands at 44 percent, up from 42 percent recorded in 2018 and 36 percent in 2014.

Out of the unintended pregnancies, 30 percent were mistimed and 12 percent were unwanted.

Generally, the study shows, the use of modern contraceptives (mCPR) declined from 62 to 56 percent among married women with a continuing shift away from short-acting towards long-acting methods.

"49 per cent of the timed methods were discontinued within one year of commencing. 4 per cent did so to become pregnant, and 19%switched to another method.

"There seems to be a disconnect between women using family planning methods and the highest rate of unintended pregnancies," he said.

The highest number of people with unintended pregnancies are young people (15-19 years) with about 60 percent.

"Less than young people about 50 per cent aged above 18 are sexually active and only about 11 percent are using family planning methods although they desire to use a method to prevent pregnancy, there is a disconnect between desire to use, availability to use and then puts the woman at risk of being pregnant," Gichangi said.

Gichangi said that the discrepancies could be partly attributed to the decline in stock reserves of the implants at the national level.

"Small levels of stock out are now increasing. Of the facilities we visited, about 15 percent reported they don't have implants in stock. Implants are growing as the method of choice, so this would affect many women in times of their choice," he said.

"Contraceptive stock-outs have increased since 2015, most notably for implants, injectables and pills," the report noted.

However, he said that some contraceptives supplies like injectibles are available at the national reserves but do not reach the county level because of challenges with Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA).

The supplies of those commodities are tied to payments of other medical bills, so if you have a pending bill with KEMSA, you cannot get the contraceptives supplies.

The PMA survey noted that of all women using contraceptives which can be hidden, 17 percent said that their partners are not aware that they are using contraception.

"13% of women who are using a contraceptive method report that it is mainly their partner's decision. 20% of the decisions not to use and 51% of the decisions to use FP are jointly made," the report noted.

The findings further revealed that women who are employed are more likely to be using or intending to use modern contraception.

According to the findings, "over 61% of the women agreed or strongly agreed that people who use FP have a better quality of life. However, nearly half of respondents have misconceptions about family planning."

The PMA survey, which was sponsored by Bill and Melinda Gates foundation was conducted over 11 counties with a response rate of 98 percent in all the 10,800 households visited.

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