Contraceptive use among women drop significantly owing to COVID-19

Contraceptive use among women drop significantly owing to COVID-19

Over a period of three months in lockdown due to COVID-19, 152,000 Kenyan teenage girls became pregnant, a 40 percent increase in the country’s monthly average.

These numbers, from early July, are some of the earliest pieces of evidence linking the COVID-19 pandemic to unintended pregnancies.

According to the Ministry of Health, contraceptive use among women of reproductive age dropped significantly in 2020/2021 financial year, owing to the advent of COVID-19.

The Kenya Health Indicator Survey (KHIS) 2021 shows contraceptive use dropped by 500,000 from 5.5 million in 2019/2020 to 5 million in 2020/2021.

In addition, more than half of women using contraceptives at 54 percent use injectable as a preferred contraceptive method with emergency contraception and female condoms been the least used at one percent.

Today, Kenya joins the world in marking World Contraception Day 2021 themed “Leaving no one behind: expanding sustainable access to contraceptive in the COVID 19 pandemic and beyond.”

It seeks to raise awareness to improve and sustain contraceptive uptake during the COVID-19 pandemic and enable couples make informed decisions and choices in planning their ideal families.

Public health officials and women’s rights advocates worry that the ongoing pandemic is delaying an adequate response to a growing sexual reproductive health crisis.

Survey by KHIS founded that 3,964 girls under the age of 19 were pregnant in Machakos County alone.

And data from the International Rescue Committee found that girls living in refugee camps have been particularly affected.

While only eight cases of teenage pregnancy were reported in June 2019 at Kakuma refugee camp in the northwest of the country, 62 pregnancies were recorded in June 2020.

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At Dadaab refugee camp, there was a 28 percent increase in reported teenage pregnancies during the April-June period, compared to the same period last year.

When Kenya introduced strict preventive measures to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus in April last year, including restricting movement and closing schools, accessing sexual and reproductive health services became much harder.

Dr. Manisha Kumar, head of the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) task force on safe abortion care, recently spoke about how the pandemic is affecting sexual reproductive health during an online press conference.

“During the pandemic, a lot of resources got pulled away from a lot of routine services and care, and those services were redirected to coronavirus response,” Kumar said.

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Lawrence Baraza is a prolific writer with competencies in Digital Media, Print, and Broadcast. Baraza is also a Communication Practitioner currently spearheading Digital content on Metropol TV's Digital Desk.

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