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Tradition undermining family planning in Kenya

27 September 2013, 12:56 John Kioko

Tradition and cultural beliefs have been cited as some of the challenges facing family planning programmes in some parts of the country.

In Coast Province and specifically Kilifi, Taita, Mombasa and Kwale County, women are forced go for family planning secretly because their husbands do not support it.

The ‘mwenyewe' syndrome is worsening the whole process of family planning in families where women consider themselves property of their husbands and hence claim they must consult them first.

According to Priscilla Thoya, a mother of nine at Mtondia in Kilifi County, most of the time women are locked out of the family planning initiatives simply because their men deny them citing health issues.

“When I consulted my husband, he gave me many reasons why I ought not go for family planning so I decided to do it secretly," she said.

Speaking at Mtondia health center recently, Thoya said she had to go for an injection to avoid suspicion from her husband.

It is a problem facing many women in the region according to Kilifi district Public Health Nurse, Christine Mataza, and Wundanyi district nurse in-charge, Christine Wakesho.

The two disclosed that many of the women in the region fail to take family planning pills or injection until they get permission from their husbands.

“There are those husbands who when they find their wives using family planning pills or the coil force them to stop it," said Kilifi district Public health nurse, Christine Mataza.

She said that they are using Community Health Workers to sensitise locals on the importance of family planning adding that there is 47 percent of family planning uptake now compared to 21 percent in 2008.

Kenya's current population is projected to increase to 66 million by 2030, according to UN Population Division.

The average woman in Kenya today has four to five children in her lifetime, which is a big drop from 8 children per woman in 1970.

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