Contraceptive use in EA up by 20pc — report

The number of women and girls using modern contraception in East Africa has increased significantly in the past year, a new Family Planning 2020 report says.

The number increased by over 20 per cent in Uganda and Kenya, with the majority using injectables as the preferred method of contraception.

“More women and girls than ever who want to avoid or delay a pregnancy — 290.6 million — are voluntarily using modern contraceptives in the world’s poorest countries, an increase of 24.4 million from 2012 — but that is 10 million fewer than what had been hoped to reach by this time,” says the report.

The additional 24.4 million women using effective contraceptives, in the past year alone, have averted 80 million unintended pregnancies, 26.8 million unsafe abortions and 111,000 maternal deaths.

The report attributes the increased number of women using contraceptives in the five East African countries to governments’ commitment and initiatives in improving women and children’s health.

In 2012, Kenya committed to reviewing policies that impede access to contraceptives at community-level health facilities. The Ministry of Health has followed through by issuing revised guidelines allowing community health workers to offer women Depo-Provera.

READ: More women in Kenya using birth control as counties drum up support

In order to increase access to family planning services, Kenya has scaled up its health voucher system. After the relaunch of the family planning campaign in February 2012, the government conducted awareness activities at the county level to build support and create demand for family planning.

The government is also working towards having one youth empowerment centre in each constituency to serve as a one-stop shop for youth friendly information, including family planning.

Uganda’s Ministry of Health has pledged to increase the allocation for family planning supplies to $6.9 million. It has also successfully mobilised an additional $5 million in donor financing from development partners, primarily UNFPA, USAid and DfID.

The country’s National Population Council Bill was signed into law in June and will create a new government body to oversee the country’s population, reproductive health and family planning policies.

In Tanzania, UNFPA is supporting the Sharpened One Plan through aocacy for family planning, contraceptive procurement and supply, and service delivery, including youth-oriented interventions and mobile outreach in remote areas.