UN official urges Kenya to increase funding for family planning

Kenya should increase budgetary allocation towards family planning services in a bid to promote the health of mothers and girls, a UN official said on Monday.

Charity Koronya, reproductive health commodity security specialist at UN Population Fund (UNFPA), said the government should focus on home-grown financing schemes to bridge access to contraceptives among women of child bearing age.

“There is still a gap in terms of financing family planning services in Kenya yet this is a key development agenda in the country. We need to explore innovative financing options to ensure contraceptives are available on demand” said Koronya.

She spoke at a forum in Nairobi to discuss the nexus between reproductive health rights and sustainable development in Kenya that was attended by policymakers and advocates.

Koronya said that greater involvement of men is key to success of family planning programs in the country.

“Men are tasked with leadership roles in our communities and their involvement in demystifying myths and misconceptions about family planning is critical,” said Koronya.

She urged men to embrace family planning methods like vasectomy as a means to save their wives from unplanned pregnancies.

Government statistics indicate that nationwide coverage of family planning services stood at 59 percent and is concentrated in urban and prosperous counties.

Margaret Mwaila, an official with National Council for Population and Development (NCPD) said that poverty, archaic customs, illiteracy and infrastructural gaps have undermined efforts to attain universal access to contraceptives in Kenya.

“We need to invest heavily in sensitization campaigns to reach out to women and girls in marginalized settings and ensure they appreciate the critical role of family planning services in their lives,” said Mwaila.

Kenya will host an international population summit from Nov.12 to 14 that is expected to revitalize discussion on policy and funding interventions required to expand access to family planning services.