In traditional society, family planning was a preserve for the woman. But as times change both women and men are actively involving themselves in planning their families through the use of contraceptive.
This shift come at a time when the government has purposed to review family planning programmes to counter the high rate of population growth as indicated by the 2009 census results. The growth trend, the National Co-ordination Agency for Population and Development (NCAPD) says, may become unsustainable for Kenya in the not so distant future, unless something is done real quick.
Apart from the increased population, the government and the citizens at large are also bothered about the increase in unwanted pregnancies that leads to abortions. According to a research finding by the African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC), there is a high occurrence of unwanted pregnancies and termination among women in Nairobi because they do not use contraceptive effective.
Ideally, an average woman in Kenya gives birth to five children, with another about 1 million pregnancies per year being termed as unplanned. When this happens, most couples decide to terminate the pregnancy. This raises so many moral questions for the nation and the need to intensify family planning campaigns and make the existing options available in health centre countrywide.
Towards this end, we are seeing more and more men coming out and accepting to embrace different modern family planning options to help in taming the unwanted pregnancies.
Reproductive health experts admit to having witnessed an increasing number of professional men over the age of 35 years assuming the responsibility of controlling the size of the family they would like to have as well as containing unwanted pregnancies. They are doing this by undergoing vasectomy – a minor surgical procedure which stops sperms from being released when a man ejaculates.
This, reproductive health experts say, if accompanied by relevant information and aggressive sensitization, is an encouraging trend that will gradually help society to demystify the notion that contraceptive is a preserve of women. Community health workers are even using the local community barazas to pass the massage across. Of course as expected, like a case in Manyatta in Nyanza Province, most men will begin by shooting down the idea because of the myths surrounding contraceptives, culture, tradition or lack of information, but this are issues that can be dispelled through education and sensitization.
According to the latest Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS), approximately 48.2% of married men know about vasectomy and these figures can change if only aggressive awareness creation can be adopted. But even as this happens and more people become informed, will they utilize the method?
Ms Keya writes for Pregnant and Baby Love magazines, both are reproductive health and baby care publications