West Pokot grappling with low uptake of contraception

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Traditional beliefs are an impediment to family planning in West Pokot County
Traditional beliefs are an impediment to family planning in West Pokot County

West Pokot County is grappling with low uptake of contraceptives because of cultural beliefs. The contraceptive prevalence rate in West Pokot County stands at 14% and the fertility rate is at 7.2% as per 2014 Kenya Demographic Health Survey report.

The County is ranked third in the country in low uptake, and its attributed to the traditional beliefs held by women from the region, which hamper family planning.

The family planning champions, trained and supported by Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW), worked with other stakeholders who planned and observed world contraception day in the County as men

were brought on board to help sensitize the community on the importance of family planning.

Speaking during the World contraceptive day 2017 ceremony at Sigor market in Pokot Central Sub County Mrs. Selina Kipkirkir who is an anti-female genital mutilation champion in the County said one of the factors that contribute to high fertility rate in West Pokot County is that the region has an average poverty level of 60.32% compared to the national level of 45% .

“It will take years and the efforts from different organization to educate the community on the importance of family planning as younger women and girls feel the burden of raising large families without the support of their husbands. In the past days after women gave birth the husband ran away but nowadays our men are about to accept family planning,” she said.

Mrs Consolota Siree County coordinator on reproductive health said teenage pregnancy in the county stands at 29% as many teenage girls have been trapped in the teenage pregnancy bracket as their hope of completing their education, starting a career or becoming financially independent is deemed.

“When women and girls have access to contraception, everybody wins: fewer girls drop out of school. This is a worrying trend,” she said.

She called on the national government and County governments to invest in family planning and youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services.

Mathew Kelele Pserum Catholic Catechist cited he is using his position to educate the community about the benefits of family planning.

“In a pastoral community that values big families and frowns on men talking about family planning have stood out to help my people although the Catholic church is perceived to be against family planning,” he said.

He said the men tend to believe it’s the duty of women to practice family planning as they stay away from the practice.