OPINION: Teen pregnancy is a menace destroying the future young girls and needs to be addressed
Globally there are 214 million women with an unmet need for contraception. The unmet need for family planning remains high in Kenya with about one in four married women not able to access contraceptives.
Only three in every 10 adolescents and young women are using a modern contraceptive method.
Long-term investments in the sexual and reproductive health of girls and women can allow them to make important life choices such as when they marry, when they begin sexual activity, and how many children they have and when.
Young people have different concerns when it comes to access to contraceptives. As they grow, they begin to take more ownership of decisions that affect their health.
Many young women prefer to use contraceptives after they have had their first child, especially the long term reversible contraceptives.
Others use them immediately as they start being sexually active due to myths and misconceptions. Barriers of knowledge makes them less hesitant in trying the methods.
Teens cannot seek out a service that they do not fully understand about. Young women with a family member who had a bad experience with a specific birth control method are less likely to use the method. Contraceptives differ according to one’s body reaction. Lack of access to contraceptives mainly lead to rapid population growth.
The population is growing rapidly every year and this causes lack of adequate health services, jobs, education and food because of low agricultural production. Use of condoms reduce the risk of spreading infectious diseases even such a STIs and STDs , HIV and also unwanted or unplanned pregnancy, which can result to maternal mortality.
In these cases there can be continued deaths due to unsafe abortion or even risk of death during child birth. Having a small number of children can help one be able to give them adequate financial care, attention and also enough education which will lead to creation of jobs and sustainability in the communities.
Health care providers should give appropriate information and the young women should feel safe and comfortable in order to make the best decisions for themselves.
Young people are most likely to receive low quality reproductive health products because they often lack information, have fewer points-of-access welcoming them, struggle against societal taboo, and are more likely to fall prey to unethical marketing practices.
Young people are aware of the need to use contraception, and knowledgeable about its availability; however, they often do not think about using it, especially where sex is unplanned. Alcohol and other drugs being ‘in the moment’ are key factors which diminish the likelihood of contraceptive use.
The proportion of unmarried and sexually active non-users aged 15-24 is increasing and their reproductive health needs are different from those of older married women who have been the traditional focus of family planning activities in Kenya.
Access to high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health services and information, including a full range of contraceptive methods, is fundamental to realizing the rights and well-being of women and girls.
Universal access to effective contraception ensures that all adults and adolescents can avoid the adverse health and socioeconomic consequences of unintended pregnancy and have a satisfying sexual life.
In order to ensure that young people access modern contraceptive methods we should: Integrate SRH services into the provision of primary healthcare services and universal health coverage, Reach more young people by setting up confidential, affordable youth-friendly and youth-led health settings where they can access contraceptives , Address myths and misconceptions around contraceptives and sexual pleasure arising from social norms, religious beliefs and cultural barriers, Invest in training, mentorship and leadership opportunities for young people and youth organizations.
There should be importance of Age appropriate comprehensive sexuality education in schools and in public campaigns for young people to understand the benefits of using contraceptives such as condoms.
Young women should be given a chance to make vital decisions regarding their reproductive health including access to contraceptives.
Teen pregnancy is a menace that is destroying the future of our beautiful young girls. Non-judgmental and non-discriminatory patient centered youth friendly centers will help a lot and also continue to advocate for the ability to choose the safest and most effective preventive health options.
Let’s demystify myths that are hindering young women from accessing contraceptive.
By Doris Kathia and Purity Nthiana
Doris Kathia and Purity Nthiana are Youth Advocates at the Network For Adolescent and Youth of Africa (NAYA KENYA)
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