Access to family planning alone won’t stop the population boom
Beatrice Khalayi Shibunga is a community health worker and family planning champion, working in the slums of Korogocho in Nairobi. She goes door-to-door to offer women in her community family planning information. In her work experience, she has met women who use contraceptives but without the knowledge or consent of their husbands.
“Because some men are unco-operative, some women are forced to use contraceptives without the knowledge of their husbands,” she says.
Elizabeth Lule, director of family planning, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, confirms this: “Injectables (contraceptives) are popular because it can be used covertly because men may not give consent to their wives to use contraceptives.”
During a forum organised recently to assess the progress that Kenya has made towards expanding contraceptive access and options to its citizens, experts spoke of the need to expand access to family planning options so as to improve the lives of women and infants.
That is an excellent idea. However, from Shibunga’s revelation, it seems that the population problem is more complex than simply providing more contraceptive options.
In a speech last year at the University of Nairobi, Bill Ryerson, president of Population Media Centre in the US, said changing the current situation where married couples are still not using family planning as a means of controlling their families will take more than provision of more family planning methods.
Abraham Rugo from the Institute of Economic Affairs says up to now, many Kenyans don’t realise the connection between family size and development. He says this is so because it does not make a difference if you are poor. However, he says the government should come up with programmes that motivate people to have small families.
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