By Sidi Katana
Mombasa has recorded a remarkable decrease in the use of contraceptives and the trend has caused sharp rise in the number of HIV/AIDS infections and that of uncontrolled births.
The youth and women within reproductive age bracket are the most affected.
According to Ms Mwanamaka Athman, the reproductive health coordinator in Mombasa County, contraceptive uptake within the County dropped drastically by 35 percent in 2019-2020 and by 32 percent in 2020-2021.
She said the decline in the use of contraceptives characterized by a rise in HIV and teenage pregnancy prevalence in Mombasa should concern every one.
“We are concerned because the low uptake has resulted in a high rate of unwanted pregnancies and HIV/Aids. According to our survey, majority of the sexually active groups are not embracing modern contraceptives,“ Ms Athman said.
Mombasa HIV burden
Tthe 2020 county HIV data placed Mombasa as one of the top ten counties with high incidence of HIV/Aids burden with 30 percent of infections happening in adolescent and young people. Total people living with HIV in Mombasa are 61,629.
The data shows that Mother- to- child transmission (MTCT) rate is at 11 percent while Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) coverage at 98 percent.
It also indicates that about 3,223 infections are on children between the ages of 0-14 years which is an increase by 263 new infections in the 2020/2021.
Athman attributes the decline to disruptions by Covid-19 which saw some of the health centers closed and services suspended. Persistent strikes by Mombasa health workers as well as cultural and religious beliefs on family planning also are contributing factors. .
Coast region, according to 2021 statistics from various counties, recorded over 4,000 teenage pregnancies between the months of January and May this year with Kilifi leading with 3,376 followed by Mombasa with 941 cases.
The reports from relevant national and county government departments show that the majority of the girls between the ages of 10 and 19 got pregnant from March after schools were closed over the Covid-19 pandemic.
Athman has also raised concerns that there is uncontrolled use of emergency pills in Mombasa that has threatened to ruin lives of many youths. She says a lot of youth have opted to take the pills, with very little knowledge about negative health impacts.
“We are concerned that a big number of youth do not know the best way to use the emergency pills; quite a number abuse the doses, and therefore we are engaging chemist’s owners to ensure they submit information to us on the uptakes within their regions,” the coordinator added.
According to a 2021 report by the DSW organisation,Kenya has made significant progress in improving access to modern contraceptives, with prevalence rate among married women of reproductive age standing at 61 percent in 2020, up from 39 percent in 1998.
In its report of June 2020, the DSW identified several gaps: the majority of youth are unable to access family planning services while majority of youth lack the information due to lack of youth friendly centers.