Release of the Post Abortion Care (PAC) Guidelines is an Advocacy Gain For Kenya.

An estimated 2,600 women die from unsafe abortions annually. These figure comprises of cases reported in the public healthcare system, meaning the number could be much higher. Many of the victims are aged between 10 and 24 years.

Good news coming in Mid-February this year was that the Ministry of Health in Kenya, approved post abortion guidelines, a pocket guide for healthcare providers; on how to handle complications resulting from abortions.

The book that will soon be launched will equip service providers with the necessary knowledge and skills on the prevention of post-abortion deaths.

“We consider this an advocacy gain for Kenya “Said, Mr. Edward Marienga, Executive Director Family Health Options Kenya Mr. Marienga spoke during an advocacy meeting in Nairobi, by International Planned Parenthood Association Africa Region (IPPFAR), that brought together Civil Society Organizations, journalists and parliamentarians. “There was a lot of confusion around offering Post Abortion Care services given that these guidelines existed before but were retracted in 2012. The move left many of health care providers scared of handling cases that could trickle in. They referred patients to National hospitals where many died before getting the much needed services” Added Mr. Marienga.

KBY_0136
Edward Marienga, Executive Director,  Family Health Options Kenya Speaking at the recent IPPFAR Advocacy meeting.

The advocacy meeting that took place last week (24th-28th March), meant to strengthen capacities and collaboration between the three groups for improved sexual and reproductive health outcomes for Africa.

Roseline Odera, Communications and Advocacy Officer FHOK however mentioned that a lot of advocacy work, coordination among CSOs and consultations by the Ministry’s Reproductive and Maternal Health Unit yielded fruits. She also said that cases by media depicting the gravity of the unsafe abortions triggered the Ministry of Health to act.

While abortion is illegal in Kenya, it is permitted in instances where the mother’s life is in danger. Article 26(4) states: “Abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is the need for emergency treatment or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.”Article 158 stipulates a 14-year jail term to anyone who attempts to procure an abortion.

Unsafe abortions have been identified as one of the major causes of maternal deaths locally. The 2014 Kenya Demographic Health Survey says unsafe abortions accounted for 35 percent of the maternal deaths; the global average is 13 percent.

This pocket guide will contribute to the universal health coverage and by extension Vision 2030 through improvement of maternal and newborn health in Kenya.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Access to Sexual Reproductive Health Services Key to Achieving UHC-AHAIC Report

Access to sexual reproductive health is not just a right but a necessity for Universal Health Coverage programs to succeed, especially for the growing number of girls reaching the reproductive age across the continent. There is particularly an urgent need for increased universal and youth friendly access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Care service” Read the opening remarks of the AHAIC Preliminary report.

IMG_20190306_072146

African countries are racing towards achieving UHC for all its citizens in a bid to also achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3. Despite the great momentum toward improving health coverage, millions of people in Africa lack access to services related to sexual and reproductive health (SRH). UHC cannot be achieved if access to quality sexual and reproductive health services is ignored.

The Africa Health Agenda International Conference in Kigali sought to galvanize stakeholders to strengthen a multi-sectorial collaboration to achieve UHC including SRH Services.

In the spirit of leaving no one behind, delegates reckoned that SRH services and supplies must be included in the basic package of services offered under the UHC strategies, such as national health insurance: From the design phase, stakeholders must make evidence based decisions regarding what SRH services and supplies will be included in the basic package of services, to ensure that services reflect the needs of women, adolescents, and marginalized groups.

To advance UHC, the specific needs and challenges facing adolescents must be addressed. Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) empowers young people to safely and positively navigate their sexuality, contributes to safer sexual behaviors and leads to better health and wellbeing outcomes. CSE is a key component in the prevention of poor health outcomes and addressing the social drawbacks of health. Governments must make concurrent investments in CSE across health, education and related sectors to make the strongest possible contribution to health outcomes.

During one of the AHAIC breakout sessions on addressing cultural, social and age barriers to accessing health services in Africa, delegates agreed that such barriers to accessing SRH services must be addressed. They include low literacy levels, subordination within families and communities, violence, lack of partner or parental permission to access services, and stigma and discrimination based on gender and age. Even when high quality SRH services are available, women and young people may face specific barriers to accessing them.

 

Health for all does not come automatically, we want to see not only political will but political leadership, strong investment and the voice of the people at every level of the process, H.E Mrs. Toyin Saraki, Founder The Well Being Foundation Africa

 

AHAIC symposium; Achieving UHC by strengthening SRHR, organized by Swedish International Development Cooperation, SRHR Team, and UNFPA East and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO) and Embassy of Sweden highlighted that effective accountability mechanisms must guide the design and implementation of UHC programs: Regular monitoring and reviewing must be built into UHC programs to ensure that services reflect the needs of women, adolescents, and marginalized groups. In particular, the participation of civil society (including women’s and citizen’s groups, service providers, young people, and health professionals) in accountability for UHC can guarantee that the SRH priorities of the entire population are met.

The symposium also highlighted the importance of data collection, and monitoring and evaluation systems for UHC that would include a range of indicators. These would be aimed at capturing whether women and adolescents, in particular, are able to access and receive quality SRH services. Indicators can include: service delivery indicators (contraceptive prevalence rate, unmet need for family planning); supply chain performance indicators (availability of medicines and supplies, supply chain responsiveness); health outcome indicators (adolescent birth rate); and equity indicators (gender disparities in impoverishment/financial protection for health, inequality for family planning coverage).

 

We should use this one occasion to not only push forward the investments in women and girls, not least, the ability to decide on their own bodies, their sexual and reproductive health and rights. When a woman can decide on her own body, she can be anything she wants to be in the world’.Katja Iversen- CEO Women Deliver

 

The symposium further suggested that the responsiveness of supply systems must be strengthened: This is necessary to avoid stock-outs of the essential medicines and supplies required to deliver quality SRH services. From the design phase, stakeholders must assess whether current supply systems are sufficiently robust to withstand the additional demands of the UHC strategy.

Embracing technological advancement was also discussed in one of the plenary sessions; (Leveraging technology and innovative models of service delivery to accelerate access) as a mechanism that would be essential in achieving UHC. Mobile Apps and messaging services to reach young people with SRH information was seen as a viable way to address myths and misconceptions that encroach use of family planning. This would enable young people to make informed choices about their bodies. In Uganda, for example, young people have developed mobile apps to monitor fetal distress, diagnose breast cancer, and disseminate information on HIV and AIDS.

Conclusion

Ensuring that all individuals are able access a minimum essential package of quality SRHR services and information will not only benefit broader aspects of health but allows gains in other development outcomes including gender equality, education, employment, sustainable and inclusive growth and poverty eradication.

Political Leaders Tasked To Lead The War on Eradicating FGM in Africa- AU Summit Report 2019  

Image result for AU SUMMIT 2019
Africa leaders at a past AU event.  Photo courtesy

After decades of prolonged cultural practice of Female Genital Mutilation, hopes of its total obliteration finally gleam across Africa after the Africa Union (AU) charged political leaders to prioritize its elimination among their mandated roles.

The decision came after deliberations by civil society organizations, women-led movements, political leaders and Heads of States/Governments met at this years’ AU Summit that was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 10-11th February. At the summit, a special assembly was set up to discuss action around the scourge of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a practice that has had serious costs on African societies.

In effect, His Excellency Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, President of Burkina Faso, was designated as the African Union Champion for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation; an indication that AU is keen on galvanizing political commitment towards wiping out FGM and child marriages in Africa.

The Assembly noted with concern, the high rates of FGM in Africa, where 50 million girls will be at risk of undergoing this injurious, harmful practice by 2030. FGM is a human rights violation which causes lifelong health complications resulting from the procedures administered to girls and women. The practice also adversely affects the maternal health outcomes on the continent.

The Assembly further endorsed the continental initiative led by the Commission to be known as Saleema: African Union Initiative on Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation. They (the assembly) called on Member States to implement the African Union Initiative on Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation, with a focus on ending medicalization and addressing cross border practice of FGM.

Notwithstanding, the Assembly saw an urgent need to implement strong legislative frameworks, allocate domestic financial resources, promote use of evidence and data, regular reporting, and the engagement of civil society and community groups in ending female genital mutilation.

Finally, the Assembly requested the Commission to put in place an accountability framework to hold Member States to account and monitor progress at the regional and national level in line with commitments made.

 ON ENDING CHILD MARRIAGE

The assembly reaffirmed its commitment towards the Implementation of the Common African Position on Ending Child Marriage in Africa and recommendations from the first African Girls Summit held in Lusaka, Zambia in November 2015 and all the recommendations from the 2nd African Girls Summit on Ending Child Marriage held in Accra Ghana in November 2018.

The Assembly also decided to take concrete actions to end child marriage in all its forms and manifestations, with firm commitment to article 21(2) of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and to have comprehensive report on the progress of Ending Child Marriage in Africa through the reporting channel to the Policy Organs.

For more information please log on to: http://www.au.int

Winners of Kakuma-Kalobeyei Community Run Commit to End GBV

John Echwa, 30 and Nancy Nadai, 17, both South Sudanese refugees living in Kakuma Refugee Camp won yesterdays’ Community Run that took place in the Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement which hosts mostly South Sudanese refugees living in proximity with the host community in Turkana West Sub-County.

The race dubbed Kakuma-Kalobeyei Community run was organized by UNFPA Kenya, UN agencies, implementing partners and the refugee community in Kakuma and Kalobeyei refugee camps, as a top activity to mark this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence (GBV)

This year’ theme is; “End Gender Based Violence in the world of work’.
The organizers sought to create awareness and mobilize refugees in Kakuma and Kalobeyei against GBV as well as create awareness among agency and refugee workers on their responsibility and obligations for creating safe work spaces, including Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse as a form of GBV.

The race also aimed to address GBV as a barrier to access Sexual Reproductive Health Services for women and girls within the refugee communities including Family Planning as power of choice to determine their reproductive health pathways which is often constrained by GBV.

On winning the race, John Echwa said that he was aware of the various forms of GBV that happen among them and that he plans to use his newly found platform to rally other men against perpetuating GBV.

“I am happy about winning today’s race. I will use this opportunity to urge my fellow men to stop abusing their women” Said John.

On her Part, Nancy said,

“For me it’s not just about winning, it is about creating awareness about the forms of violence that we experience as women living in refugee camps. I want GBV against women and girls to end” She said.

The race also reserved a special category for people with disabilities and adolescents.

“UNFPA responds to vulnerabilities generated by humanitarian situations to ensure adequate and sustainable access to reproductive health services and protection against violations founded on gender inequalities. This years’ 16 Days Of Activism is for us to amplify efforts that we have made in collaboration with our partners to eliminate gender based violence as a desecration of human dignity and impediment to realization of sexual and reproductive health rights” read a statement by UNFPA’s Country Representative Dr. Ademola Olajide ahead of the race.

A joint statement released by UN Agencies few days to observing the 16 days of Activism read;

“Our duty is not only to stand in solidarity with survivors of GBV but also to intensify our efforts to find solutions and measures to stop this preventable global scourge with a detrimental impact on women’s and girls’ lives and health. Ending violence against women and girls is not a short-term endeavor. It requires coordinated and sustained efforts from all of us”

Sexual Exploitation and Abuse as a form of GBV can lead to discrimination and exclusion of especially women and girls from work places, denying them opportunity for economic empowerment which deepens their vulnerability to further abuse.

GBV in its various forms occasions emotional and physical trauma, unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion, pregnancy complications and sexually transmitted infections (STI), including HIV.

Kakuma-Kalobeyei Community Run to End GBV, #16DaysOfActivism

Residents of Kalobeyei participate in a walk to sensitize the community about GBV during the launch of 16 days of activism.

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign to challenge gender-based violence.

UNFPA Kenya, in collaboration with UNHCR, implementing partners and the refugee community in Kakuma and Kalobeyei refugee camps, will use the platform provided by this year’s 16 Days of Activism to create awareness and mobilize communities in Kakuma and Kalobeyei (Turkana West Sub-County) against GBV under the theme: ‘End Gender-Based Violence in the World of Work’. The main event of the celebrations will be a marathon dubbed “Kakuma-Kalobeyei Community Run to End Gender Based Violence”
The initiative targets to create awareness among agencies and refugee workers on their responsibility and obligations for creating safe work spaces, including Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) as a form of GBV.

“UNFPA responds to vulnerability generated by humanitarian situations to ensure adequate and sustainable access to reproductive health services and protection against violations founded on gender inequalities. This years’ 16 Days Of Activism is for us to amplify efforts that we have made in collaboration with our partners to eliminate gender based violence as a desecration of human dignity and impediment to realization of sexual and reproductive health rights” read a statement by UNFPA’s Country Representative Dr. Ademola Olajide, ahead of the slated activities.

Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) as a form of GBV can lead to discrimination and exclusion of especially women and girls from work places, denying them opportunity for economic empowerment which deepens their vulnerability to further abuse. Organizations whose staff are implicated in work place related forms of GBV are exposed to reputation risks and legal sanctions that could dissuade donors. Individual staff themselves risk loss of employment and litigation.

GBV in its various forms occasions emotional and physical trauma, unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion, pregnancy complications and sexually transmitted infections (STI), including HIV.

‘Why I report On SRHR,’ African Award-Winning Journalists Speak.

Logan, Abdel Aziz, Abdoulaye- some of the award winning journalists

For a very long time in Africa, Sex and related subjects have been deemed taboo. They could never be discussed openly. The scenario is slowly changing such that currently, subjects around sexual and reproductive health can be discussed within various groups including homes, churches and on media platforms very openly.

However, Journalists have played a major role in disseminating information, demystifying myths around sexual subjects which in turn spurred various conversations through their coverage, debates and interviews. Though they mention that it has not been easy covering such a sensitive subject. Some even risked losing their jobs for highlighting contentious issues such as contraception, abortion and LGBTQI rights! It took only the bold and passionate journalists to uncover the realities beneath the Sexual and Reproductive Health world.

During the recent awards ceremony held in Kigali on the sidelines of International Conference Family Planning (ICFP), award winning journalists shared reasons as to why they chose to report on health matters particularly sexual and reproductive health;

‘My mother got pregnant and gave birth to me at 14. Her education and dreams were greatly disrupted. She took time out to take care of me. My dad was on the other hand free to continue with education and pursue his dream. Which he did quite well. He even pursued further studies abroad and finally got a good job. I write from a place of painful understanding. Had my mum known much around contraception, she would not have deferred her education. She would have exploited her fullest potential. As such, many girls fail to achieve their dreams and full potential due to early pregnancies. A pregnancy can be the only thing that stands between ones’ dream” Said Joyce Chimbi, Winner Print Feature Article 750 words, From Kenya.

Moses Chifwembe, Runners up print feature 2500 words said, “While I loved sports and sports reporting, I was totally blind about things that happened to women and girls on the ground. But one day, I witnessed something during my work that made me switch from being a sports reporter to a health reporter. However, convincing my editor about my decision was not easy. He asked me to write three articles around the issues that I felt I wanted to cover after which he would make the decision whether to accept my request or turn it down altogether. I did as he had requested and amazingly he published all the three articles” Said Chifwembe, Zambia

On his part, Logan Koffi, Runners Up Print Feature 750 words Said “Having hailed from one of Togos’ rural areas, I saw how women and girls struggled to access health services especially reproductive health services. These women happened to be my neighbors, mother and sisters. Ten years ago, when I launched my career in journalism, I decided to focus on health reporting. Women in rural areas are adversely affected due to lack of SRH services. I am their voice. I believe that all women and girls have a right to information and access to SRH services and that no woman or girl should be denied this most important human right”

Abdel Aziz Nabaloum, Burkina Faso, winner print feature article 2500 words encouraged journalists from Africa to tell their own stories since they live and experience these issues first hand.
‘Let us tell our own stories, no one should tell them for us. We have first hand experience on issues that affect our people,’ Said Aziz

The awards ceremony sponsored by International Planned Parenthood Federation Africa Region had seven journalists across the continent scooping various prizes for their commitment to improve Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights for millions of girls and young women within the continent.

Ida Odinga Calls for Increased Awareness on Cancer to Curb Frequent Deaths

“Cancer is currently a menace for Kenya. It is claiming many lives and is no longer a disease of the affluent as it was thought to be; it cuts across all social classes.” Said Ida Odinga

She was speaking last Friday evening at Villa Rosa Kempiski during the screening of a movie on breast cancer called ‘Purple Hearts.’

She underscored the economic burden of the disease on families and asked the government to strengthen the healthcare system by either training more doctors or outsourcing expert doctors to treat the disease locally, instead of referring patients overseas for treatment.

She however, was happy that the government has prioritized on Universal Health Coverage for All, as one of its Big 4 Agenda, a move that will see both infrastructural and service improve-ment within the health sector.

The movie screening event convened by United Nations Population Fund Kenya (UNFPA) and Maendeleo Ya Wanawake brought together first ladies from Machakos, Makueni, Kakamega counties, Nairobi Women Representative Esther Passaris and various stakeholders to engage a broad range of stakeholders as advocates who would provoke strategic policy discussions and far reaching actions, which if undertaken will advance the health rights of women and girls.

The movie which chronicles a 32-year-old lady diagnosed with breast cancer after a precious pregnancy that followed five years of secondary infertility highlights a broad range of issues that would eventually impact on her family.

‘‘The purpose of the movie is to highlight that breast cancer can be defeated” Said Andy Amenechi, the producer of the movie whose wife is a breast cancer survivor.

Andy said that the movie is currently showing on Africa Magic Tv. He also partners with various advocacy organizations to distribute free copies, for he wishes that everyone gets a chance to watch the movie. He has plans to have the movie translated to Swahili language for the general Kenyan audience.

Dr. Ademola Olajide, Country Representative, UNFPA Kenya, said, breast and cervical cancers are Sexual and Reproductive Health Right (SRHR) issues which require appropriate attention,

“As the movie illustrates, the interface of breast and cervical cancer and Sexual Reproductive Health of women such as those of maternal health, against the background of gender constructs within the society which disempowers women require appropriate attention” Said Dr. Ademola.

He added that UNFPA Kenya, under its mandate will continue to work with everyone to address urgent health issues affecting the country for the well-being of all

On her part, Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Chairperson, Rahab Muiu, assured that her organization was poised to take the message to the grassroots and appealed to those present within policy circles to give voice and amplify the issue.

Tana Adelana, leading actress, ‘Purple Hearts’ said it was not easy shooting the movie, it was rather overwhelming.

‘The movie depicts a true-life story, for me knowing that someone had to experience this in real life was quite emotional. We had to cut certain scenes so that I could get myself’ She said

Cancer is the third leading cause of mortality in Kenya, accounting for 7% annual deaths after infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases, with an estimated 400,000 new cancer cases and 28,000 cancer deaths occurring each year (MoH 2011).

Evidence by Kenya Cancer Network (KCN 2017) shows that 60% of Kenyans affected by cancer are younger than 70 years old, while the leading causes of cancer in women are cancers of the cervix and breast and esophagus, head, neck and prostrate in men